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Driving the future of sustainable mobility

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This article was published on February 3, 2021

Want to buy a MINI with a leather interior? Sorry mate, that’s no longer going to be an option

Over half of MINIs sold last year had a leather interior

Want to buy a MINI with a leather interior? Sorry mate, that’s no longer going to be an option
Matthew Beedham
Story by

Matthew Beedham

Editor, SHIFT by TNW

Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls. Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls.

Iconic British car marker MINI is removing leather as an option for its future vehicles’ interiors.

According to Autocar, the decision has been made as the company works to achieve its sustainability goals.

Despite the ethical concerns attached to leather products, some 54% of MINI vehicles sold last year were shipped with leather interiors.

[Read: How much does it cost to buy, own, and run an EV? It’s not as much as you think]

“We don’t need leather anymore in the future, because we don’t believe it’s sustainable,” said MINI boss Oliver Heilmer.

MINI is far from the first to ditch leather in favor of more sustainable fabrics, which are made from plants or recycled materials.

The latest EV from legendary car designer Henrik Fisker, the Fisker Ocean, makes use of recycled fishing nets for its upholstery. The Lynk & Co. 001 plug-in hybrid uses similar materials, and the Polestar 2 uses yarn made from old plastic bottles, waste cork, and carpets for its interiors.

Speaking to Autocar, Heilmer said: “The fabric in the production seats is now 100% recycled. The lining underneath is 70% recycled.”

Heilmer didn’t say when this action is going to take effect though.

With over half of all new MINI buyers choosing leather for their vehicle’s interior — that’s about 130,000 vehicles a year — many stand to be disappointed that they won’t have the luxury interior option.

But people shouldn’t be saddened. Advancements in material technology mean that we can have ethical fabrics that are just as high-class as leather. There’s no reason not to switch, but with MINI’s move, it’s not like we have choice anymore.

We can expect many more car brands to follow suit too. Sustainability of a vehicle doesn’t start and stop with the engine, it extends, and should extend, to all components.


SHIFT is brought to you by Polestar. It’s time to accelerate the shift to sustainable mobility. That is why Polestar combines electric driving with cutting-edge design and thrilling performance.Find out how.

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