From the moment Ricardo Montalbán first oozed the seductive phrase “rich, Corinthian leather,” leather seats have been a symbol of automotive luxury. Edmunds Inside Line reports that the 2013 Nissan Leaf, which is expected to go on sale in early 2013, will offer the option of leather seats, and some animal activists have taken offense. Critics have challenged Nissan, claiming that leather seats do not conform to the image of a “green” vehicle.
A blow to Nissan’s vegan, cow-loving customers?
According to critics, a Nissan Leaf with leather seats would taint the model’s green image. Yet as Edmunds notes, not all vegans agree. Californians Jane and Lane Wright of the blog Vegan Bits wrote that even though Nissan is offering leather seats as an option – they are not standard – consumers don’t need to disregard Nissan as a brand outright.
“(It wouldn’t) make sense to protest Nissan under the guise that they are presumably tainting the ‘greenness’ of the Leaf by offering leather seats,” said Vegan Bits. “This just feels like the media looking to drum up controversy where there really isn’t any.”
In practice, vegans purport to not eating or using animal products.
Fashion designers take the vegan view
Edmunds reports that a number of high-profile members of the fashion industry have spoken openly about their disdain for using leather. On Feb. 26, designer Stella McCartney told the New York Times that “using crocodile or leather to make a handbag is cruel, (and) it’s also not modern, you’re not pushing innovation.”
Other 2013 Nissan Leaf innovations
Aside from the semi-controversial inclusion of optional leather seats, the 2013 Nissan Leaf will reportedly offer the option of a dark cloth interior, a better cabin heating system and “several enhancements,” according to Nissan America.
“The Nissan Leaf will feature several enhancements for the 2013 model in line with our quest to continuously improve our model range,” said a Nissan American spokesperson. “We’ll talk more about the specifics of these product updates in the coming months. The 2013 Nissan Leaf will be produced in Smyrna, Tennessee, for the U.S. market beginning in December.”
Attempting to stir up a tempest in a teapot
Vegan Bits’ criticism of the mainstream media’s “overblown” coverage of the leather seats issue in the Nissan Leaf invokes the image of the overactive imagination on a slow news day. While the bloggers would not opt for leather seats in the Leaf they’d buy, they believe that reason should prevail in the argument. The leather seats are optional. The choice to be angry should also be.