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Synthetic materials and electric cars

Published: 15 Dec, 2021

While promoting electric cars and how good for the environment they are, manufacturers also want to push the idea that every type of material used within these vehicles is “perfect”. If you read some of the advertising, you could be fooled into thinking you are saving the planet by buying one. One of the major pushes by many of the manufacturers is the use of synthetic materials instead of leather, trying to promote the idea that by not buying leather you are in some way saving the rainforest, with no mention of the fact that the hide is a by-product of the food industry and, without an end use, will end up in landfill. 

Recent studies within China found that over 40% of greenhouse gases are emitted from the manufacturing process of synthetic fibres and clothing (textiles), all while the leather industry adopts cleaner production methods without the help of crude oil. With rising crude oil prices, there has been price pressure of synthetic fibres, something that will only increase over time.

In this industry, it sometimes feels as if we are banging our head against the wall when talking about the bovine hide being a by-product of another industry and already available. Now, with rising oil prices, our job may be partly done for us, there is nothing like the bottom line on a balance sheet to concentrate the mind. Leather is economically an option when compared with the alternatives, and in real terms is getting cheaper. All this without even having to bring up the subject of cobalt mining for electric car batteries.

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