BMW To Offer Vegan Steering Wheel

Mon 12th Sep 2022

For the first time, BMW drivers can now have a suitable substitute for leather in the most important interface between driver and vehicle - the steering wheel.

The German company will be the first automotive company to market vehicles with vegan interiors in 2023. These interiors will be created thanks to expertise in developing innovative materials with leather-like qualities. Steering wheel surfaces, which must satisfy high standards for feel, appearance, and wear resistance, will also be produced from these materials for the first time. 

The BMW Group's mission towards climate neutrality is to reduce CO2 emissions throughout a vehicle's life cycle by 2050 at the latest. Material choice is important in achieving this goal, whie replacing raw materials of animal origin in vehicle manufacturing increases its sustainability. The quantity of vehicle components that contain trace amounts of animal-based raw materials will be reduced to less than one percent in the BMW and MINI models by introducing a new steering wheel material. As a result, these materials will now only be found in places that are not visible to customers, for example in numerous waxy coatings such as gelatine in protective coatings, lanolin in paints, tallow in elastomers, and beeswax in paints as a flux.

BMW has long been providing alternative materials to leather, but this is the nearest thing the company has had to a fully vegan car.

“With a steering wheel made from a high-quality vegan surface material, we are fulfilling the wishes of our customers who do not want to make any compromises in terms of look, feel and functionality. The innovative material withstands wear and tear caused by abrasion, perspiration and moisture and has all the desirable properties of leather,” says Uwe Köhler, Head of Development Body, Exterior Trim, Interior at the BMW Group.