By on November 25, 2016

Morrissey

In a letter addressed to General Motors CEO Mary Barra, renowned complainer singer Morrissey requested that the company offer vegan leather interiors for the Chevrolet Volt and upcoming Bolt EV. The request is part of a PETA campaign aimed at curbing leather production, helping electric car buyers enjoy all of the pleasures associated with animal skin seats without any of the guilt.

However, it turns out that General Motors already had something in the works.

Published in the Detroit Metro Times, the letter suggests “Given that the Volt and Bolt are being marketed to eco-conscious buyers, entirely vegan options would only broaden their appeal.”

Tesla offers a vegan-friendly interior and luxury brands like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Lexus provide faux leather alternatives.

Morrissey’s letter cited a recent PETA investigation into the punishing conditions cattle were subjected to at the Brazilian ranches that supply leather to Volkswagen, Toyota, and GM. Since the investigation, PETA has urged its members to encourage automakers to replace leather interiors with a vegan substitute so consumers “can easily make the compassionate choice for animals.”

The Smiths’ former vocalist is doing just that, claiming in the letter that, “A staggering 51 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture. Animal skins also have to be treated with a toxic soup of chemicals in order to keep them from decomposing, and runoff from leather tanneries poisons vital waterways.”

Responding to the PETA campaign, GM spokesman Nick Richards said the company has “very specific guidelines for our suppliers that require them to follow all local laws and regulations,” in addition to prohibiting animal abuse.

“All the leather we use in our vehicles is a byproduct of some other use of the animal,” Richards said. “So those animals are not raised specifically for their leather.”

And, regarding requests that General Motors provide a vegan leather option for Bolt and Volt interiors, Richards said most GM vehicles already have non-leather options.

The industry term for those non-leather interiors is “cloth”, which has been around for quite some time.

[Image: Man Alive!/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)]

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101 Comments on “Morrissey Wants GM to Offer Vegan Interiors; GM Says ‘How Soon Is Now?’...”


  • avatar
    Vulpine

    PETA does have some valid points.
    This is NOT one of them. Vegan “leather” is Vinyl… typically considered a cheap substitute for leather because it offers neither the durability nor the comfort of leather, though admittedly it’s easy to clean until it starts cracking and peeling due to wear and weather.

    And quite honestly, if an animal is already used as a food source, it’s skin is already available for use in other forms of manufacturing, as are bones and other “byproducts without having to single out other animals specifically for their skins.” PETA and furs strictly for luxury clothing and appearances (fur coats, etc.) from farms dedicated solely to the production of furs is an argument in which I will agree with them. THIS argument I don’t.

    • 0 avatar
      sarcheer

      I agree with you on the point of essentially not wasting the animal skins produced as a by-product of food production. However, PETA does raise a good point regarding the tanning process. That is an industry that has some room for improvement.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        If the tanning process uses waste materials (like it used to oh-so-long ago) then again I don’t see any problem. However, modern tanning tends to use modern chemicals that are more likely artificial rather than directly animal based. This would suggest no animal by-products are used any more, though I admit I don’t know the exact process. Chattanooga, TN used to be the home of a major tannery, though I believe it closed about 30 years ago.

        • 0 avatar

          I remember from Elfquest comic books and such that Human urine (like used in leather-tanning from mexico) is very natural and green.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            Tanners in ancient Rome installed free public urinals to collect the urine, later processed into the uric acid actually used. The Emperor took some flak for taxing the urinal owners, since that was the only way to tax them – corporate/sales taxes hadn’t been invented yet.

        • 0 avatar
          hifi

          I’m a huge fan of the Smiths. But I have to say, what’s cute moping as a 20-something isn’t so cute as a whiney adult. Morrissey just seems to have grown into a pissed adult and a complainey dick.

          That said…
          BMWs i-cars use leather that have been tanned by olive leaves. The wood is sustainable eucalyptus. The entire factory is powered by solar and wind. The US factory that provides the carbon fiber to produce the entire bodies of the i-cars are use hydroelectric power. The entire production and re-thinking process of the i3/i8 made me appreciate the virtues (and the styling) of these cars a lot more. It’s one of the reasons I bought an i3 over a Volt. BMW and Tesla are doing green right by building exciting cars that also utilize green production processes. While GM, Toyota, VW and Ford seem to just continue building cars conventionally with hybrid or electric powertrains.

          • 0 avatar
            OldManPants

            So, boutique EVs get boutique materials and procedures while the rest of us have to make do with crass jalopies flung together by sweaty robots in wife-beaters?

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Good German vinyl, aka “MB Tex”, “BMW Sensatec” and the like will FAR outlast leather with zero care given to it. Feels about the same as the usual grades of painted crap leather found in cars. Really, really good leather will last a long time if it is well cared for, but almost nobody does that in a car, and car is about the worst environment possible to use the stuff. I’d prefer a good heavy tweed cloth personally, but German vinyl is a close second.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    I wonder how much the Earth will cool if we can get rid of the leather in car interiors?

  • avatar
    Loser

    How many cars use actual true all leather interiors anymore?

  • avatar

    The Mountain Goats – Anti-Music Song
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNQSOr4Jgis

  • avatar
    brn

    “marketed to eco-conscious buyers, entirely vegan options would only broaden their appeal.”

    Never liked how people want to associate eco and vegan. Do you have any idea how much methane I would personally produce if all I ate were veggies???

    Also, who cares what an [sort of] celebrity thinks? Morrissey, join the comment section like the rest of us. :)

    • 0 avatar

      “I’ve never liked Morrissey, and I don’t like you!”

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        The Smiths were way better back in the day.

        Here’s an appropo song by The Smiths (sung by Morrissey) for General Motors, and more specifically, Cadillac:

        You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet Baby
        The Smiths
        If you’re windering why
        All the lovethat you long for eludes you
        And people are rude and cruel to you
        I’ll tell you why
        I’ll tell you why
        I’ll tell you why
        You just haven’t earned it yet, baby
        You just haven’t earned it yet, son
        You just haven’t earned it yet, baby
        You must suffer and cry for a longer time
        You just haven’t earned it yet, baby
        And I’m telling you now
        If you’re wondering why
        When all I wanted from life is to be famous
        I have tried so long, it’s all gone wrong
        I’ll tell you why
        I’ll tell you why
        I’ll tell you why
        You just haven’t earned it yet, baby
        You just haven’t earned it yet, son
        You just haven’t earned it yet, baby
        You must suffer and cry for a longer time
        You just haven’t earned it yet, baby

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al From 'Murica

          Never liked the Smiths and this is the first time I can recall disagreeing with you.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            I’m not REALLY a fan. Morrissey was emo before it was a thing.

            I was more of a Love & Rockets, The Cult (Love Removal Machine is epic), Stone Roses, NIN, Chili Peppers, Sonic Youth, Pumpkins, etc. fan.

            I was just trying to dig deep and hate on GM due to my miserable experience with their allegedly “much improved” Chevy Impala I had in Vegas 3 weeks ago, which I suffered for all of 1/2 day before returning it and swapping it out for a MB C-Class at Sixt.

            There’s just nkthing redeemable about GM. I can’t tolerate nor comprehend such an epic failure of a company (they’ve had so much fail for so long, got a free dunk & rinse of legacy debt, and still can’t get their sh!t together).

            They’re the Mitsubishi Motors of the U.S., except many people still buy their vehicles, which are almost all awful (there are possibly 3 or 4 notable exceptions).

            The fact that GM is stuffed full of arrogant, overpaid, groupthink execs, who live in a total bubble (and have since the era of Roger Smith), only makes it more grating.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            Now there is the guy we know! I’ll give the thumbs up to all the other bands on your list.

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      Morrissey gone to seed. It’s a terrible thing.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “renowned singer Morrissey”

    Who?

    ““All the leather we use in our vehicles is a byproduct of some other use of the animal,” Richards said”

    GM still uses real leather? Seriously? Could have fooled me on the use of real leather being used on my late model Pontiac or Buicks I have seen. Maybe Cadillac still does?

  • avatar
    Von

    I like to pretend I care about the earth (but only if it affects my concept of healthy living), but I just can’t bring myself to ride in a cloth seat like the plebs, and temple that is my body cannot tolerate anything named vinyl. So please GM, help an airhead out and change the name of your vinyl to leather so I can finally believe I did something good for this world and lord it over my friends. Only then will things be alright inside the bubble again.

    • 0 avatar

      HA!

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      Ironically, leather was traditionally reserved for the pleb in the front seat who did the driving (and was exposed to weather). The important people in the back sat on broadcloth.

      Using leather on all seats is a recent thing, post-1970. I suppose it’s a byproduct of the rental limo, where God knows what fluids need to be hosed-off the seats.

      Leather, or at least cow leather, is much cheaper than broadcloth. It’s just industrial waste from the burger industry, dipped in toxic sludge. Unfortunately, it’s the only choice left for most decent cars. Morrissey has a valid point, manufacturers should offer better seating options. I would have gone for cloth in my last two cars, had it been available at higher trim levels. Cloth is softer, less temperature-sensitive, and offers better grip in corners.

    • 0 avatar
      hifi

      Go and feel the seats in a Tesla Model X. It looks like leather and feels like leather. Actually, it’s much more soft and sumptuous than any leather I’ve ever seen in an automobile. It’s amazing. It feels like the belly of a newborn puppy. But it’s not puppy belly… it’s manmade “leather!”

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      I came here to make the same snarky point. The idea that rich, earth hugging liberals are dying a little inside every time they sit on leather seats makes my head hurt. This is what these fools think about. Imagine the dilemma: do I buy the real leather seats that came from a murdered cow, or do I buy the fake leather that is really a petroleum based product that MUST be polluting the environment?

      • 0 avatar
        shaker

        The journey to remove a thousand tons of greenhouse gas starts with a single cow fart.

      • 0 avatar
        PeriSoft

        “The idea that rich, earth hugging liberals are dying a little inside every time they sit on leather seats makes my head hurt. This is what these fools think about.”

        Can we at least admit that there’s some space where you can want to improve the world without being a hand-wringing nincompoop? I love me some leather as much as the next guy, but I don’t feel the need to tar anyone who has any reservations about any industrial process as a bleeding-heart moron.

  • avatar
    TomHend

    Morrissey- miss a meal.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    Why contemplate life’s complexities when the leather runs smooth on the passenger seat?

  • avatar
    cartunez

    Morrissey is one the gods of music slumming with us mortals.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Vegan leather?

    WTF?

    Leather by definition is tanned animal skin.

    I googled vegan leather.

    Will my vehicle smell like seaweed if they substitute “ocean leather”?

    Will my vehicle smell like pineapples if they substitute Piñatex.

    Cork is another faux leather. Makes me want to drink some wine to drown from his whine.

    So you want the luxury of leather in a car purchased to make you feel like you are saving the planet from global warming.

    Makes me want to buy a maxcumstroke diesel with emissions delete and straight pipes and roll coal around a PETA office.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      Vegas leather is like vegan meatballs and vegan bacon.

      To me, if you want your plant based food to taste like a meatball, then what you really want is a meatball. But that’s just me. Let them twist their little minds into pretzels trying to live without these impossible conflicts.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    “GM Says ‘How Soon Is Now?’”

    “‘How much’ is ‘where?\'”

  • avatar
    Dave W

    Oh boy a stupid internet argument to toss easily misinterpreted truths into.

    Like properly maintained and grazed pastureland sequesters more carbon per acre then forest land. Meat and leather can be the green choice if not raised on feedlots etc.

  • avatar
    baconator

    Whoever wrote this headline deserves a raise. Well played!

  • avatar
    rpn453

    51%? Yeah, right.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    I wholeheartedly support PETA but I wish they could have a better frontman than this fat, ravaged looking old musical mediocrity. In the annals of pop music history, WTF is a “Smiths”? Certainly no ZZ Top. Not even a Whitesnake.

    He’s four years younger than I am and I’m *much* prettier.

    So many British rock “stars” have a second career as West-bashers that sets in once their decomposition reaches a trigger level.

  • avatar
    GS 455

    I’m with Morrissey on this. Velour FTW!

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    Good job PETA…Now they will not only revert to vinyl, but they will get to charge extra.

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    And is that old Windbag Morrisey still alive! What a bag of @$$

  • avatar
    ajla

    Sort of on topic, the cloth seats in the new Armada are AWESOME. Every Nissan and Infiniti should be offering those.

  • avatar

    I never heard about Morrissey or Smiths. Until I found Smiths CD for some reason bought by my son who was not even born yet when album was issued. Even though I finally heard Smiths several decades late (and found them extremely boring) still never heard about guy named Morrissey until now. Is he Canadian? I thought article was about Canadian female singer from 90s until I saw some old fat man on the picture. There are so many idiots in show business, and all they want to live in Canada for some reason may be because of free healthcare, that I do not pay attention anymore.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Please, please, please don’t let him get what he wants.

    My favorite Smiths song, BTW.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      Deftones did a great cover of that song.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        I am a Deftones fan, and I almost always listen to the Deftones cover immediately after the original when I put it on. Two minutes of the song just isn’t enough, and the Deftones cover has a touch of angry darkness that flows nicely off the deep sadness that the instrumental of the original leaves.

        Their cover of If Only Tonight We Could Sleep is also excellent.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    Why ponder life’s complexity
    when the leather runs smooth on the passenger seat?

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    This clown can’t hold a candle to Katy Perry!

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    So it takes 10 years for GM to figure out that their ignition switches are killing people, cars leave the factory missing brake pads, their premier engine comes with a free load of machining debris, but they maintain a close watch on the quality of life that their leather donors lead. Not very believable, but if true maybe the inability to prioritize explains the other problems.

  • avatar
    pb35

    Wheat is murder.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      “Out of the five types of living beings, a householder is forbidden to kill, or destroy, intentionally, all except the lowest (the one sensed, such as vegetables, herbs, cereals, etc., which are endowed with only the sense of touch).[11] But, the ascetic is required to avoid even injuring the one-sensed form of life to the best of his ability.[12]

      Hence Jainism enjoins its adherents to completely avoid violence to higher-sensed beings and as far as possible minimise violence to lower-sensed and single-sensed beings.”

      “Vegetarian food that also involves more harm to the living beings such as roots, bulbs, multi seeded vegetables etc. are avoided by strict Jains. The importance of ahimsa manifests in many other ways in the daily life of Jains. For a layperson it means participating in business that results in least amount of violence to living beings. No furs, plumes or silk are worn. Use of leather is kept to a minimum and must in any event be from naturally dead animals. Food is usually eaten during the day unless unavoidable, since there is too much danger of injuring insects in cooking at night. The Jain will not use an open light nor leave a container of liquid uncovered lest a stray insect be destroyed; even with this precaution, liquids are always strained before use.[27] ”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahimsa_in_Jainism

      This is what it sounds like, when carrots & celery cry.

  • avatar
    vent-L-8

    this man doesn’t have the body shape/type I usually associate with vegans

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I like animals and don’t disagree with much of PETA’s positions. What I don’t understand is their perpetual hard-on for GM. In the early 1990s, my first job out of college was working in customer support at Saturn. Barely a day would go by without at least one call from a PETA member screaming at me about how Saturn needed to stop crash testing cars with live chimpanzees, or pigs, testing on rats, or some other nonsense. No amount of logic or number of facts could sway them to believe that the company which had invented the modern crash test dummy likely would find no scientific value in crashing cars with apes. PETA said it was true, therefore we were all lying.

    Seriously, buy a car with cloth seats if it bothers you. And why GM? What about Toyota, or Mercedes, or any other big car company that offers leather seats. If anything, I would target the German luxury makes who only offer plastic seats or leather with no cloth option.

  • avatar
    shipping96

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBXGFOk5_Rs

    Perhaps the leather of our future will come from fungi. I found this to be a fascinating idea, use fungi which will grow from waste, such as rice hulls and sawdust.

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    When I was in junior high I remember the most miserable upperclassmen wearing Morrisey T shirts. After hearing his crap I realized why they were miserable. And yes, lay off the cheese burgers. You look like you are on the Axl Rose diet with an extra side of pompous windbag thrown in.

    Now that we have a Republican President again can we expect windbags like him, Michael Stife, the douchbag dude from the B-52s, and all of the rest of the 10000 maniacs to start flapping their collective gums again? (I’ll give Natalie Merchant a pass)

  • avatar
    cartunez

    The Morrissey bashing hurts my soul. He is still very much alive and well and still touring and releasing music. The Truth about Morrissey dammit :)

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    I want leather out of cars too but not for the same reason PETA types do.

    In cars, leather looks terrible after a few years–even if it is well-maintained. Maybe it’s my OCD or my perfectionist tendencies but it’s unnerving. Wear marks show up wherever the material flexes. It can rip or tear easily, although that is partly (but not exclusively) to blame due to the use of bonded leather.

    I am very obsessive about using a leather conditioner on a regular basis (and putting up a sunshade on hot days) so that I keep it in good condition for as long as possible, but I’m afraid that my efforts may not be good enough.

    Vinyl, on the other hand, is extremely durable and low-maintenance. It’s also cheaper. It doesn’t make sense that it isn’t being used nearly as often as it should. With reasonable care, it can last indefinitely. MB-Tex is a perfect example. Go look at an older Mercedes and the material will be in better shape than that of a four-year-old car with leather or bonded leather.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      The thing I don’t like about synthetic materials is that they don’t absorb moisture, so any sweat just builds up instead of aiding in cooling. But I have no experience with MB-Tex. Maybe it’s great.

      I’ve seen plenty of automotive leather that’s 10+ years old and still looks fine. Infinity, Acura, BMW, and Audi leathers of the mid to late-2000’s seem to be plenty durable. I conditioned the Nevada Terracotta leather in my sister’s 2007 X3 last summer – the first time that has been done to our knowledge – and I had to pull up her build sheet to confirm that it is actually leather. It still looked like-new to me. The Canadian prairie climate might be easy on leather.

      Looking back even further, when my buddy sold his ’97 Acura 1.6EL with 200k+ miles in 2010, the leather seating surfaces of the driver’s seat were still in excellent condition, but the vinyl edge had disintegrated long before that.

      I’m finding that real leather conditioner is getting hard to find at mainstream outlets. Most of the mainstream stuff is now some sort of “cleaner and conditioner” of dubious constitution. How can you possibly strip oils and add oils at the same time? They don’t even specify the oils used. I find that the conditioners with natural oils – lanolin and neat’s foot oil – do a great job of keeping leather soft and supple.

      Does anybody make a decent synthetic baseball glove? It’s been a long time since I paid attention to new baseball equipment, but I have trouble imagining a synthetic material as durable and breathable as the quality leather in a good ball glove.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        Aren’t most auto leathers coated with some sort of plastic paint? It’s leather underneath but isn’t the surface essentially synthetic?

      • 0 avatar
        RHD

        Neat’s foot oil is one of those things that we wonder what the heck it is, but buy and use because it works so well.
        So what is a “neat”, and why is it’s foot so special?

        It turns out that “neat” is an old English word for domesticated bovine animals. After butchering, the cattle’s shinbones and ankles are boiled, and the “first pressing” oil is used for leather conditioning. The later pressings are used for making soap and industrial oils.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I doubt a liberal elitist is going to dissuade most buyers from buying a new vehicle with a leather interior. If you want to really go green then buy a vehicle with seats made out of recycled rags. I am willing to bet Morrissey is chauffeured around in a large SUV or limo with a leather interior and flies in a private jet. Reminds me of some of the other bleeding heart liberals.

    • 0 avatar
      OldManPants

      “bleeding heart liberals”

      As a feminazi I hate those weak-ass fruitcakes, too.

      Morrissey really needs a man bun or some dreads if he expects to wield any authority with such losers.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I am not entirely opposed to PETA or many other animal rights and environmentalist but many go to extremes and lose any shred of credibility. Morrissey can afford to be an elitist and his beliefs might be popular with a few of his fans, but pushing his beliefs on others who might want the leather especially if the leather is a byproduct of the meat processing industry is an entirely different matter. Next Mr. Morrissey will be pressuring the food industry to eliminate all beef, poultry, fish, and any other animal products because it is inhumane to raise and kill animals for food. Mr. Morrissey should not be telling GM what type of interior to put in their vehicles. Consumers should have a choice of a cloth interior if they prefer it but those who prefer a leather interior should not have their choice dictated by an elitist.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    I owned a 1963 blue and white Rambler 770 with original factory blue and white plaid woven nylon/vinyl seat covers. That’s more practical than real or fake leather. It was cooler in Summer, less cold in Winter, easy to clean, and very durable. That’s real luxury.

  • avatar
    amca

    Take a look at some o the old genuine wool broadcloth interiors on classics. 60-70-80 year old wool in great shape. More durable and more elegant than leather. And cool in summer and warm in winter.

    And then there’s mohair . . . . bring ’em back. Leather belongs in mid level compacts these days.

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