Tesla Eliminates Leather Seating Options On Model S And Model X

JUL 24 2017 BY MARK KANE 67

The most recent reshuffle of Tesla Model S and Model X options and pricing (see report) also took away the leather seating option, leaving only synthetic seating.

Ultra White Premium Seats In Model S – 2016

It has been quite some time since vegans were lobbying for another premium seating option on Teslas, as originally you could not buy higher-trim versions of Model S without leather because some options were tied to leather seating in packages.

As a solution, Tesla introduced a synthetic leather option (Ultra White Seats) and now, another step seems to be the total abandonment of leather seating.

As synthetic leather is considered as more environmentally friendly, Tesla’s move is in line with the promotion of offering more environmentally friendly, electric drive solutions.

Now it’s only matter of time when we will see Model 3 design studio, which probably will re-confirm that there is no leather seating on any new Tesla, as CEO Elon Musk confirmed that there would at least be a “vegan option” for the 3.

We should note that the steering wheel is still leather-wrapped, but upon request Tesla will make sure that never moo’d either

Tesla Model X – interior options

source: electrek.co

Categories: Tesla

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67 Comments on "Tesla Eliminates Leather Seating Options On Model S And Model X"

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Awesome 🙂

Step into your $100,000 Tesla and it should smell like a grilled filet mignon, not the stock yard that was last it’s home.

Tesla the Religion, is replacing the wine with water.

I say Ahh S***!

Having sat, touched, poked, prodded, and generally fondled both the white synthetic and the leather seats in many Teslas (including my own Model S), the switch is a great idea.

Having spent a lot of time and effort cleaning, hydrating and treating leather seats to see them crack anyway, I applaud Tesla’s decision. Leather is just a pain to deal with.

Hmm I have not tried Teslas synthetic leather seats.

But in general, I associate this type of material as going in lower end budget midels.

It is usually less comfortable, stiffer and louder. My Spark EV seats were plastic leather and surprisingly noisy compared to genuine leather. Same with a couch I used to have. And the leather jacket I have is much softer and more confortable than the stiff, noisy Faux leather jacket I own.

I would have to try out these seats before passing judgement. But I am not sure I like this change… I might prefer cloth seats instead.

If you can get to a Tesla store and try them out you should. They will greatly exceed your expectations.

Oh, I will be. 🙂 As soon as a Model 3 is here in Texas for test drives, we will be up there to take it for a spin. I liked the leather Model S seats on our test drive.

If the Model 3 seats are at least as soft, quiet and comfortable as our Volt seats, I will be sold on them.

If they are on par with our Spark EV then we will probably just go with a cloth option on our Model 3.

Now how about “multi-pattern” choices other than black for those of us who think $3300 for “premium” vinyl is ridiculous. And the addition of cooled and ventilated seats?

Yeah, Tesla has juggled its offerings on the fly before. I remember the Summer of 2013. From really small things (like not including night mirrors, in non-tech cars), to later realizing Autopilot was worth more than $2,500 to folks, they’ve changed offerings on feedback in the past.

Maybe “premium synthetic” substantiates a $3,300 charge, but I wonder if they know how much they’re pioneering? More generally, the positioning of Model S & 3 is staring to look kludgey. A price gap, that is more than double, and options that take hostages, like a heated steering wheel for $5,000.

As everyone is getting into making Tesla predictions, mine is that the Model S will soon go back to more optionality. You can’t screw up your most profitable car.

There will be no double price gap. High end Model 3s will overlap in price with low end Model Ss.

The BMW M3 tested by Car and Driver in late 2016 cost $88,000. The Model 3 P75DL will be in the same ballpark.

Cool. Does anyone know the cost of the materials? Is the synthetic cheaper than real? I suspect it would be.

If it is the material that is being speculated, it retails for about $70 a yard. That’s comparable to a moderately expensive leather (the vast majority of automotive leather would not fall in that category).

I spend less than three bucks a sq ft for 1.5/2oz veg tan upholstery leather by the side. Barely a mark on it, soft, no more than a couple holes, etc.
Side note: I also have a hard time thinking that going to a pvc upholstery is better for the environment. It is no doubt quicker and easier to deal with vs a natural product though.

I’m pretty sure *nobody* mentioned PVC!

“As synthetic leather is considered as more environmentally friendly”

Isn’t regular leather more environmentally friendly? They come from leftover meat that would’ve been thrown away, and they bio-degrade. Synthetic must be manufactured, most likely using fossil fuel, and they don’t breakdown as easily, if at all (they become smaller, not break down chemically). If they did break down easy, they wouldn’t last long in the car, either.

Precisely. It’s not like they’re raising cows, slaughtering them for their hides to make car seats, and then throwing away the rest.

After seeing various synthetic leather materials I’ll gladly stick with real leather.

Production of leather is a horribly nasty process including many toxic chemicals.

True. However, you’re saying that the production of synthetic seats uses no hazardous chemicals, carcinogenic or otherwise? It’s probable a high degree of refined petroleum products are involved as base stock for making synthetic leather.

Yes. Used in a controlled chemical manufacturing environment where all processes and byproduct can be captured, measured and accounted for.

Leather processing notoriously impacts fresh water supplies and exposes workers to these chemicals in an uncontrolled way as it’s treated as agricultural. We should also look for ways to reduce use of cows as a commodity all together. As tasty as they are, they’re horrible for the environment.

Also, lab grown “beef” is not too far away. Those won’t come with skins.

So it is your opinion that chemicals from one process can be captured but not from another?

Doesn’t sound belivable.

If they can grow they muscle it would seem the skin would be much easier.

And there is a market for it.

And would more environmentally friendly than constructing fabric from a barrel of oil.

lab grown leather is already a thing. Elon should partner with this company and build a leather making gigafactory.


I’d be more impressed with lab grown leather. That I can use.

It depends on the tanning process. Not everything is chrome tanned.

Well, traditionally, it is tanned using a ‘tannin tea’ made from tree bark (oak, amongst others), so not necessarily quite as environmentally disastrous as you think!

But what about raising cattle for their meat and throwing away the rest (the hide)?

Is that ok?

Real leather seats fur luxury ICE in Europe were the reason for the manufacturers to be granted an excemption from Chromium VI related regulation. Chromimum in oxydation stage 6 is highly toxic and causes cancer. However, as it comes with popular leather manufacturing processes, a maximum threshold per car is granted in Europe. I would not recommend to put bare skin on any leather surface, including jackets and gloves, unless its guaranteed free of chromium…

Not all leather is “automotive grade”, even if you have a good piece, scars and imperfections often requires you to throw a lot of it out…

Still comes down to how each are made as like anything, things made in 1st world counties are usually less toxic than things made in a 3rd world countries…

It’s not just leftover product. I’ve read the skin is the most profitable part of the cow. And it stands to reason, that less demand for leather would mean fewer cows needed. Although apparently the leather Tesla was using was sheep or goat.

Raising Livestock and methane emissions from cows and cow manure accounts for about 14.5% of all anthropogenic CO2 globally. More than transportation.

And about 90% of all deforestation is related to raising livestock.

And it is hugely water wasteful. 1lb of meat takes about 1800gallons of water. That’s about 100 days worth of showers.

There’s a new movement that’s interesting and fairly obvious. For people not willing to go vegetarian (me being one of those), eating meat that is more efficient. For instance growing up on a farm, it is a basic fact that all livestock producers track…’feed efficiency’. It’s the number of pounds of feed that it takes to make 1 pound of animal. Different animals have different feed efficiencies. Then there’s the rearing of the breeding stock, etc. Warm blooded animals are ALWAYS less efficient because of heat losses. Also you want to be at the bottom of the food chain. So eating predators is freakishly inefficient (and nasty by more people’s obvious decisions in history and also a disease issue) so for instance eating wolves would be a moronic idea. So eating fish then is pretty efficient but you have obvious depletion issues and all the ‘capture cost’ associated with commercial fishing. Additionally the most desireable fish are way up the food chain. Tuna and swordfish obvious examples. Eating a tuna is (made up math here) likely several times more ‘inefficient’ for instance than eating a cow because of food chain losses. So shrimp…there’s your magic bug right there. We aren’t… Read more »

Insects… What you just said x 10. We’ll all be eating lots of insects before long…

Cricket protein powder and power bars are a current trend for body builders apparently. Makes a lot of sense.

Tom, so you basically only want the rich people to own horses by having the government jack up the prices? Why even bother with “fees”? Just have minimum income to be able to own horses.

In fact, there’s really no need for cars, either, because you can live closer to work. By your logic, only the rich should be able to own cars, computers, TV, etc. or pets of any kind.

I don’t really get how using oil to make seats is better than using cow skin.

I appreciate vegans’ plight. It seems to me like Tesla just wanted to cut down on the number of options.

This must be the only “luxury car” not available with leather.

Because the oil is not burned to make the synthetic leather.

Burning oil/gas is the problem, not using oil/gas.

“I don’t really get how using oil to make seats is better than using cow skin.”

Because raw cow skin removed from the cow does not equal leather; it equals rawhide. Leather requires tanning, which traditionally has been a nasty and very toxic process which stinks to high heaven. Being downwind of a tannery was traditionally about the least desirable real estate possible.

Apparently tanning is still that bad even in the modern era. Perhaps someday, some genius will figure out how to tan leather in an environmentally friendly way.

We haven’t been using chromium salts to tan leather for quite some time now.

It’s still smelly but it’s not the environmental disaster you make it out to be.

Chemical plants smell sweet?

“We haven’t been using chromium salts to tan leather for quite some time now.”

“It’s still smelly but it’s not the environmental disaster you make it out to be.”

Who is the “we” referred to here? If you mean tanneries in first-world countries, that merely means most leather-making has been moved to countries with less stringent environmental regulations. And if Mr. Google is correct, most leather is still made using chromium salts.

I certainly wouldn’t take PETA’s word for anything regarding leather, given their extreme bias on the subject (really, eating meat is an “addiction”?!?), but here’s an article on the subject from Gizmodo:

“How Leather Is Slowly Killing the People and Places That Make It”


And apparently, China is the largest exporter of leather, and they use cats and dogs in the process.


if you live in california you’ll note leather products like gloves coming with a cancer warning.

Also, because you can make plastics out of oils derived from plant based sources.

Faux leather is every bit convincing except for one major aspect that is important in hot states: it has way more heat capacity than leather, meaning that it gets way hotter and takes a lot longer to cool down. I wish that they would solve this issue.

From a long time leather seat person and steak eater: if you haven’t tried out the Tesla synthetic material, currently in the white seats, you absolutely should. It is superior to leather in every way. Very soft and comfortable. Super easy to clean, hydrophobic so spills just roll off. No cracks or wear marks, even on high use demo models.

It’s the way of the future.

They also don’t market or refer to it as synthetic or replacement leather. It’s a totally different feel.

Leather is not just cow hide. It’s also a bunch of toxic chemicals that are used to treat that hide.


Not that chemicals aren’t involved in the manufacture of other materials too, including cloth, which just goes to show you that you can’t really avoid polluting the planet, even if you get an electric car.

This is the good — the real leather on Teslas wears terribly and shows creases and stretches and butt marks after a few months. The Ultra White seats wear much better (just not the perforated ones).

“This is the good — the real leather on Teslas wears terribly and shows creases and stretches and butt marks after a few months.”

Odd. Not my experience at all after 2.5 years. Eventually, I hope to see some wear on the leather, which I expect will give it a fine look as I have seen on other leather seats.

Also, that cream seat option though…OMG! it’s gorgeous and better than the “tan” they used to have. Also, the front console and cup holder area are wrapped in the same cream making it look much more upscale! (not even black and white get this treatment)

Another thing to consider is that leather seats in almost all cars has a coating on the surface for stain resistance, colorfastness, and surface uniformity. It’s basically plastic coated leather.

Yeah, I have leather seats in my van, and while the leather holds up well (258k miles) that plastic coating deteriorates quickly and you end up with, well, a mess.

So, if I read this right, Tesla is now offering its synthetic (vegan) “leather” in multiple colors, not just “ultra white”?

That is certainly a step up. Congratulations, Tesla!
😀 😀 😀

But I still prefer fabric seats, thanks. Leather is cold and stiff in very cold weather, and in hot weather it doesn’t breathe so my back winds up literally soaked in sweat.

“Your mileage may differ.”

I prefer fabric too.

Blatant cost cutting disguised as a “vegan” play. Having said that, and as noted by others, Tesla leather was nothing to write home about. Still…”vinyl” (and let’s not pretend it is anything else), is cheaper than leather!

I’m sure the truth lied in the middle…Yet wasn’t Vegan interior touted to be more premium and expensive compared to leather?

Another interesting note, every MY16 and MY17 Volt had standard leather covered steering wheels…They announced that for the LT trim now it’s synthetic but leather for the Premier trim…It’s one thing if you had two different materials from the beginning, but 2 MYs in and now offer the change? Just seems like offering two different materials is more costly than just offering one…

As a note the non-leather steering wheel is used on other Chevrolet’s so I don’t think it was a big leap for GM to have it as the base option on the 2018 Volt.

“‘vinyl’ (and let’s not pretend it is anything else), is cheaper than leather!”

I think I can safely state as fact, not opinion, that Tesla’s synthetic leather isn’t vinyl. Vinyl would be a vastly inferior material to use as seat covers, because in below freezing temperatures it turns quite brittle. If you can sit on a car seat without the material cracking on a bitterly cold winter day, before the cabin has warmed up, then it’s not vinyl.

I like fabric seats as well. I hate the smell of leather seats and they are cold in the winter and make you sweat in the summer. The Tesla fake leather seats don’t make you sweat in the summer. I was sitting on one for about 20 minutes in 97 degree heat without the AC on and the windows open.

@Mark Kane; found an interesting angle…

Still tons and tons of Tesla leather “gear”/accessories…


Interesting enough, some items, like gloves for example, use “sheepskin” leather…

While a Lully Pouch states: “This accessory is handcrafted from the same automotive-grade leather used for your Model S seats. The leather color choices of black, tan or gray match your car’s interior perfectly.”

So the sheepskin leather items are probably imported and the automotive grade leather is “recycled” (for now)…

Odds are the rest of the leather is imported also. 80% of our leather comes from china/brazil/couple others.

Yup, the automotive leather will apparently be phased out…Some famous Vegan will tweet Musk and most likely end the imported branded products…

Another thing to note, overwhelming majority of “leather” interiors just have leather on the seating surfaces, back and sides of the seats are synthetic…

Nice disscussion, really. But, wait 3-4 years for the great EV-boom of old, good, traditional car manufacturers, who’ll swollow Tesla for a lunch. Musk had his 5-8 years bussiness window, soon it will be closed by big boys, forever. And they never ever get rid with leather upholstery from Alpine cows etc.

Unfortunately synthetic leather-like materials still have the image of being cheap plastic. But there was much progress in the past. Genuine leather was, is and will always be a natural material, which no matter how you treat it, will degrade with time and progress is limited by the natural qualities of animal skin.
AFAIK recent synthetic materials are already superior to genuine leather. Of course these are not cheap materials and the price is at least comparable to leather, if not above.
A luxury car maker should always use the best materials available. Luxury is never really enviromental friendly by defintion. The only problem: leather and fur have the image of luxury, because they used to be better than synthetics. But things have changed.

My synthetic leather furniture never lasted more than a year, peeling off, is very warm to be pleasant to seat on, I don’t think remove the leather option will be wise.

I find this kind of stupid. Synthetic leather is not as good as real leather and you are not raising cattle just for their leather. Dang it Tesla… another strike.

Lamentable quality of finishes!