5 reasons to choose real automotive leather for your car
Purchasing a new car is an involved, emotive experience for most of us, and there are many choices we must make along the way before our purchase is finalised, and some can be hard or confusing.
What brand? Electric, hybrid or ICE? What exterior paint colour? Which of the many accessory packs on offer do you select? There are so many choices, which can be overwhelming, so this article can hopefully help with one of your choices on interior materials and why leather is the best for your seats, steering wheel, and trim.
1. Leather is a durable material.
Performance automotive leather is high quality and made to last and, in most cases, will last longer than the car; many classic cars still have the original leather interior that was fitted decades previously.
Interiors are subjected to many external factors during use, such as people sitting on them, getting in and out, sweat from our hands on the steering wheel, high/low temperatures, sunlight, staining and soiling. Automotive leather manufacturers must produce products to meet the exacting standards of the OEMs to ensure leather can withstand all these factors and more and look as good as it did on day one.
Compare this to the new wave of alternative materials, often called ‘vegan leather’ (a term to greenwash their credentials). Many of these materials do not have the durability of real leather and deteriorate when exposed to these same factors. There are now studies, such as the FILK report1, that prove leather's durability, and there are increasing stories on the internet2 of consumers who have major issues with their interiors after just a couple of years of use.
2. Leather is easy to maintain.
Very little is needed to be done to keep automotive leather looking fantastic. Its anti-soiling properties mean a spilt coffee, muddy dogs or children’s snacks won't stain, smell, or ruin your seats.
Post-pandemic, the easy nature of being able to kill bugs and viruses with a simple wipe is very reassuring; some companies now offer anti-viral finishes doing the job for you. Leather doesn’t trap pollen or dust, making it ideal for people who suffer from allergies.
Regularly vacuuming the seats and wiping them with a damp, light soap solution will keep them clean and fresh, and once or twice a year, use an approved conditioner to ensure they remain in great shape.
3. Leather increases the residual value of your car.
Leather seats are near the top of the list of many people's ‘must haves’ when they are looking at buying a premium second-hand car and are in demand with a higher perceived value that is often associated with luxury.
Whether you keep your car for 1, 3 or 5 years before selling it, a leather interior will retain its look and feel due to its durability and ensure the residual value of your car remains high, giving you a better return on your investment when compared with alternative PU/PVC based materials that will not perform or look the same.
4. Leather is the sustainable option.
Contrary to the wave of opinion often portrayed in the media, automotive leather is the sustainable option to choose.
Leather is a by-product of the meat industry and is the ultimate upcycled material, saving significant waste going to landfill. Modern leather manufacturing techniques and legislation have led to an ever-reducing impact on the planet, especially when compared to what’s involved in manufacturing PU/PVC, which makes up a large part of ‘vegan leather alternatives.
Leather is part of a circular process where everything can be used, repurposed, or recycled. PU/PVC-based composite materials, often mixed with fruit or vegetables like pineapple or mushrooms, are part of a linear process as it's extremely difficult and expensive to recycle once discarded, so they are destined for landfill.
The durability of leather ensures a long lifespan, and retrims or seat covers are not required, saving unnecessary manufacturing of new materials by choosing right the first time.
5. Leather is the most comfortable option.
Passenger wellbeing is high on the agenda of modern car design, and with the amount of time we spend in a car, it's important we are comfortable.
Automotive leather feels great and has a natural flex or give, making it very comfortable on long (and short) journeys, unlike PU/PVC alternatives, which are generally rigid with no flex.
The natural characteristics of automotive leather mean it will wick away sweat on a hot day, and modern perforated leather allows cooling systems installed in the seat to help. On cold days, the leather works well with heating systems to keep you warm.
Whilst these 5 reasons should be compelling as to why you should choose real automotive leather for your next car, we respect everyone’s right to choose should you not want a natural animal product in your car. When choosing an alternative, please take the time to find out what the material is made of, as “vegan leather” doesn’t necessarily mean sustainable.