Mini cooper

Just the horsepower, not the skin; MINI to stop using animal-derived leather

Animal skin will no longer be part of the future upholstery of BMW-owned British car marque MINI.

This was declared by MINI design chief Oliver Heilmer in an interview with UK-based Autocar magazine.

Comfort levels in MINI fabric seats will be improved with the use of 100% recycled materials

“We don’t need leather any more in the future, because we don’t believe it’s sustainable,” he told Autocar’s Pier Ward ( “We’re totally convinced that we will have modern and high-value products without leather.”

In the report, Heilmer revealed that an absence of hide isn’t the only area that MINI has been working on. “The fabric in the production seats is now 100% recycled. The lining underneath is 70% recycled. We’re looking to create a timeless design. A one-season design, like fashion, isn’t our aim with the design of future Minis. It’s inventive simplicity. Materials will be recycled, but they’re luxurious at the same time. And inventive in terms of function. For instance, we used cork in the Urbanaut (concept). The aesthetics will be coming more from a home perspective, rather than an automotive one.”

Australia-based website Car Advice ( reported that the news comes just days after the facelifted MINI hatch and convertible range were unveiled, suggesting the change will be introduced in the next-generation of MINI models. Journalist Ben Zachariah wrote that in 2020, a little over half of all cars delivered to MINI buyers in the United Kingdom featured real leather interiors.

This veganism in car interiors isn’t the first time in the industry. There’s a lot actually, including sustainable textile Pinatex used for vehicle interiors, Mercedes-Benz’s Artico man-made leather or the MB-Tex seat upholstery, Italian brand Alcantara leather that can be found in private jets, Porsche, BMW “M,” Lamborghini models Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera, and Lexus LC500h.

In August 2020, it was reported that the BMW 5-Series car comes with a sustainable, vegan leather interior called Sensatec leatherette as standard in the United States. Sensatec leatherette is an animal-free material that BMW has been using for years. In an Aug. 11, 2020 article, Livekindly’s Liam Pritchett reported that most 5-Series cars sold around the world will also include vegan leather. He said that the BMW 5-Series cars’ interior will use “highest grade and quality vegan leather seats”, as reported by the Totally Vegan Buzz website last Aug. 19.

ABC News Network’s Morgan Korn reported last April 6 that the consumers’ next car purchase may come with this disclaimer: No cows were used in the manufacturing of this vehicle.

“Leather has long been viewed as the superior choice in automobiles, especially in the luxury segment. Now, some automakers are taking consumers’ concerns about sustainability and animal welfare seriously. A growing number are shunning animal leather altogether or charging customers thousands of dollars more if they prefer cow hides on their steering wheels and seats,” wrote Korn.

Marc Lichte, head of design at Audi, said “vegan leather,” as the German luxury automaker calls it, is a big selling point for customers as reported by ABC News. Two new Audi concepts—the e-tron GT and e-tron Q4—will be “animal free.” Synthetic leather will replace traditional animal leather and the cushions, armrests, headliner, window trims and center console will be produced with recycled materials, Audi says.