According to Nissan, vegan, electric vehicles are the future and Tesla – the pioneering electric automotive company, “accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable energy” – is thrilled to have more car companies in agreement.
Nissan’s Electric Vegan Car of the Future
Nissan recently unveiled a prospective design of a new electric car, kitted out in vegan leather, which it hopes will be on the road in the not too distant future.
The Japanese multinational automobile manufacturer unveiled the eco-friendly motor at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The reveal follows on from the company’s launch of the “Leaf” last year, the top-selling electric vehicle throughout Europe in 2018.
The Leaf stayed true to the familiar, generic car design, but the new prospective motor sees Nissan depart slightly from the norm. “This is a progression,” Giovanny Arroba, program design director at Nissan said in an interview, according to Rubber & Plastic News. “This is a step forward. We’re looking at this for 2022 and beyond.”
And 2022 and beyond will see cow skin leather out of the picture, according to Arroba, without sacrificing the luxurious feel of the interior. “We wanted to get a premium [feel], and that’s usually always leather. We captured that, I think with a synthetic version.” He added, “We’re going into the realm of vegan leather and synthetics, but celebrating it and making it cool.”
Thanks to the neat nature of electric motors – one electric motor is used for each wheel, or in some cases, one per front set of wheels and one per back – there is more room in Nissan’s new vehicle to experiment with design, as there is no longer a requirement for a center shaft tunnel.
The vegan interior will be situated on a flat floor (so there will be no need to fight over space in the footwell anymore) and the panel between the windows – known as the “B Pillar” – will also be gone, contributing to a super sleek, futuristic design. “I think of it as a magic carpet,” Alfonso Albaisa, senior vice president for global design at Nissan noted.
“Electrification provides a fantastic opportunity for designers and for engineers to redefine the proportions of our cars,” added Karim Habib, the executive design director for Infiniti, Nissan’s luxury vehicle division. “By having a flat floor and no B pillar, we’re able to provide a wide open and natural way to enter or exit the vehicle.”
Tesla Leading the Way
One man super happy about the electric future of the automobile industry is Elon Musk.
Last week, the Tesla CEO took to Twitter to share his excitement over new electric cars coming to market, stating he wants more people to take inspiration from Tesla’s work.
In the thread, he linked to a 2014 blog post titled “All Our Patents Are Belong to You” (hello, nod to a classic early aughts meme), where he wrote that all Tesla patents were made public, “in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.”
Exciting to see all the new electric vehicles coming to market! We created Tesla to accelerate a sustainable future & it’s happening!https://t.co/IqREiDqIyL
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 31, 2019
In the post, Musk added that Tesla Motors’ mission is to “accelerate the advent of sustainable transport,” so deeming its cars intellectual property of the company only slows down progress. Anyone who wants to use the electric car patents can, without having to worry about a lawsuit.
Musk added that it is “impossible” for Tesla to address the global carbon crisis on its own as annual new vehicle production approaches $100 million per year.
“Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day,” he wrote.
“Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers,” Musk concluded.
“We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.”
Like Nissan’s prospective new design, sustainable Tesla has vegan seating.
The Electric Future of Cars
Tesla is not alone in pioneering the electric vehicle; German manufacturer Audi hopes that 30 percent of its production will be completely electric by 2025.
Last October, at the LA Auto Show, the company showcased the Audi e-tron GT. The 4-door luxury electric vehicle is set to pip Nissan to the post, launching in 2021.
Not much is known yet about the e-tron GT, but it is confirmed to include a completely vegan interior, made of recycled fabrics; the floor will even be created out of reclaimed fishing nets.
The Los Angeles Times reported last year, “Audi executives remained mostly mum about details of the electric coupe. But they did say that it will have a 100-kWh battery pack, a 248-mile range and a 0-60 mph time of 3.5 seconds. It will be able to charge to 80% battery strength in 20 minutes.”
Michigan-based company Rivian also debuted an electric pick-up truck at the LA Auto Show. The company pitched the four-wheel drive as an electric version of Land Rover, and interestingly, also compared the design to Musk himself.
“It’s the ideal platform to go out and enjoy nature,” R.J. Scaringe, the founder of Rivian, told the LA Times. “If the analogy were clothing, this is more like a Patagonia jacket and less like an Armani suit. It’s comfortable getting dirty. The interior design is rugged and cleanable. It’s the version of Elon Musk you’d want your daughter to marry.”
Volvo is also making big promises in terms of electrification; the Swedish company hopes to sell one million electrified vehicles by 2025. It hopes to achieve this goal with the launch of its first all-electric car this year, as well as by offering at least two hybrid versions of all of its models.
Volvo notes on its website, “We combine lightweight engines with supercharging, turbocharging and electrification for outstanding performance with less impact on the environment. It’s intelligent technology that gives you the best of all worlds.”
The Urgent Need for Vegan, Electric Cars
Volvo’s promise is overdue; as it stands, there are more than one billion standard gas guzzling cars in use around the world, and they’re detrimental to the environment.
It’s a fact humanity has known for some time – but with the release of a hard-hitting climate change report from the UN towards the end of last year – the drastic consequences of no transformation in the automobile industry are becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.
According to Sciencing, pollution from cars is one of the main causes of global warming, emitting carbon dioxide and other toxic greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
The publication notes, “the effects of car pollution are widespread, affecting air, soil and water quality. Nitrous oxide contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer, which shields the Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun.”
“Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide mix with rainwater to create acid rain, which damages crops, forests and other vegetation and buildings,” it continues. “Oil and fuel spills from cars and trucks seep into the soil near highways, and discarded fuel and particulates from vehicle emissions contaminate lakes, rivers, and wetlands.”
The environmental impact of the automobile industry doesn’t stop there, either. Many vehicles are kitted out with a leather interior, a byproduct of animal agriculture, which is another of the world’s worst culprits for causing climate change.
In October, the United Nations labeled animal agriculture has an urgent problem. “Our use of animals as a food-production technology has brought us to the verge of catastrophe,” the United Nations Environment Program said in a statement.
“The greenhouse gas footprint of animal agriculture rivals that of every car, truck, bus, ship, airplane, and rocket shop combined,” it added. “There is no pathway to achieve the Paris climate objectives without a massive decrease in the scale of animal agriculture.”
Like the race towards vehicle electrification, the acceleration of the clean and vegan meat markets is needed now more than ever before, as is the development of sustainable, plant-based materials, like vegan leather.
12 Years Left
According to a UN report released last year, we have just 12 years to turn things around. To prevent major social and environmental disasters – including droughts, floods, food shortages, and wildfires – human-caused carbon dioxide emissions need to drop 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, and reach “net zero” by 2050.
It’s an ambitious target, but with major changes – like electric cars and plant-based diets – it’s reachable, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
“One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes,” said Panmao Zhai, the co-chair of IPCC Working Group I, in a statement last year.
Jim Skea, the Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III, added, “Limiting warming to 1.5°C is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes.”
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