Vegan leather vs traditional leather

Vegan leather vs traditional leather

I can't say that i've had a car with "Vegan Leather". Can anyone describe the difference between it and a normal leather car? Also, what are the pros/cons/differences between in terms of look/feel/aesthetic.

I've heard bad things about Toyota's "Softex" vegan leather, so i'm curious.

jordanrichard | 25 juillet 2018

You haven't had "vegan leather" because there is no such thing. It's a polyurethane material. Think of it as a high grade vinyl. From my experience in a having a loaner with it, it is very nice and soft. If you are asking for the purposes how helping you decide which material to go with when ordering your car, you have no choice. Meaning, leather is not an option. I suspect that once Tesla starts making the $35K version it will come with their textile seats which from all accounts are really nice in appearance and durability.

TranzNDance | 25 juillet 2018

The ultra white seats are like stain resistant marshmallow.

RedPillSucks | 25 juillet 2018

Many vegans died so that you can have the softest seat in your car.

Slidely | 25 juillet 2018


Lorenzryanc | 25 juillet 2018

Different smell, but seems to be more durable. I only have ~2000 miles though, so no long term test from me. Very east so far to clean. Damp cloth and wipe.

djharrington | 25 juillet 2018

If an animal gives you consent to use its skin for leather, is it considered vegan?

Lorenzryanc | 25 juillet 2018


Shock | 25 juillet 2018

There is no such thing as vegan leather. They are plastic seats. Leather is made of animal hide.

It's generally considered inferior to real leather (case in point luxury brands continue to put leather across their lineups, though some like Mercedes offer plastic MB-Tex seating in the cheaper models). The gap has nonetheless shrunk between plastic seating and genuine leather. Toyota's new Avalon has abandoned genuine leather in all but its Limited trim, for example.

Slidely | 25 juillet 2018

Real leather seat covers from TSportline in various colors for our 3s:

jordanrichard | 25 juillet 2018

Slidely, maybe. Naugahyde was a trade mark name for a fabric coated in vinyl. To be honest, I don't know the chemical difference between vinyl and polyurethane.

Perhaps a proper slang term would be "pleather".

michael521w | 25 juillet 2018

FWIW, the sales rep at my local Tesla store said it's made from soy

Magic 8 Ball | 25 juillet 2018
jordanrichard | 25 juillet 2018

I know that Ford is does or did use material made from soybean oil, for the interior of one of their models. If my memory serves me well, there ended up being serious durability issues.

Others can correct me if I am wrong, but I think anything you make from a plant, is going to break down at some point. In the mid 90's, Mercedes decided to use wiring in their cars that were coated with a bio gradable coating to appease some environmental group. Well, it certainly bio-degraded. Numerous engine fires or fried engine management computers resulted in it. The coating couldn't handle the heat of the engine compartment and wires shorted each other out. So it is standard practice to assure that the while engine wiring harness has been replaced, when one is looking at a used Benz from that era.

Magic 8 Ball | 25 juillet 2018


Same can be said about anything. Eventually everything breaks down and some things break down quicker than others. Technology advances each day. Amazingly there are wooden boats mining shacks, and such, that have lasted centuries being exposed to the elements.

ravisundaramam | 25 juillet 2018

@ Slidely There are airbags in the car seats. Tesla says do not use seat covers. Are these seat covers approved by Tesla? Are they guaranteed not to interfere with the side air bags?

RadOne | 25 juillet 2018

There are plastic materials throughout every vehicle for surfaces, parts, etc. Likely the carpets are nylon fiber. Impossible to manufacture without some plastic components which are made from petrochemicals. So if the seat material is also, what does it matter? Would you not buy the car if the seats are made from the more common non-plant based synthetics? You cannot buy a car without some plastic.

vmulla | 25 juillet 2018

I typed up a longish review of the seat material and lost it all before I could submit. aargh..will try again!

chris | 25 juillet 2018

Those Tsportline covers that Slidely posted above are attractive. By the time the 3 comes to me in Europe, there should be the full set of models available - I'm tempted to go with LR non-premium, then fit real leather seats aftermarket. It doesn't feel right that a car that runs on renewables, only offers oil-based materials for the seats.

RadOne | 25 juillet 2018

"While it is not available to the public yet..."

If a sales rep said it is used, was misinformed.

RadOne | 25 juillet 2018

That is if the rep said it is a soy based product.

vmulla | 25 juillet 2018

Bottom line: These seats strike a PRACTICAL balance between look/feel and maintainability. The material is very good.

My car was delivered in late January, we have about 14K miles on the odo, and our family has 2 young kids - so our car seats have been through the range of seasons and a bit of abuse.

Look: The seat looks Ok, they don't look as luxurios as other premium car seats, but that's Ok (read on)

Feel: The seat feels a little softer than real leather.

Practicality/The orange juice test: Our seats (and the sides of our doors) have had our share of orange juice, ketchup, milk shake, finger grease. These are all NO PROBLEM, just wipe and go. The seats do not have perforations and that is a very good thing. I've been using disinfecting wipes liberally on these seats and they're holding up very well. Actually they're holding up so well that I'm not ever going to by 'car care' wipes.

Heat: Despite the black color, the seats stay somewhat cool even in direct sunlight. I don't know if its the seat material or the special glass on the Model 3, but I'm pleased

Cold: Nothing remarkable, the seats/material feels nice with the seat warmer on

Salt water/Bleach Water: Yes we were at the beach. Salt water has no effect on these seats. We had kids fall asleep in wet beachwear. Wipe it off and the material bounces back to original look. Same thing with pool water.

Booster seats: There were no indentations in the material when using the booster seat, and we're not even using a seat protector. The booster we're using doesn't have any sharp edges, but I'm glad that the material is really holding up to this abuse.

Sagging/Stretching; No signs of sagging/stretching yet. Its only been 6 months but everything looks new.

This is fantastic seat material. My previous Tesla had the super nice fabric seats, I loved them - but these are just that much better. Basically because they can be wiped down without a care.

dalesmith1962 | 25 juillet 2018

@chris “It doesn't feel right that a car that runs on renewables, only offers oil-based materials for the seats.”
— —

Do you realize that there is much carbon-based energy used in raising cows. Where do you think leather comes from?

CST | 25 juillet 2018

"Oil-based"... is that petroleum? Could be vegetable oil.

joe.lynn.atp | 25 juillet 2018

Does anyone have experience with durability and dogs? My dogs are 45 and 85 lbs. I am planning on using a cloth dog seat cover on top of the back seat, but I would like the hear about other people’s experiences.

RadOne | 25 juillet 2018

Yes, "vegan leather" can be plant based but odds are against it. It could also be made from recycled plastic which is better for the environment. Since this is such a controversial subject, would be nice if Tesla stated the source of the synthetic material they are using. There is plenty of other plastic in the vehicle, anyway.

RadOne | 25 juillet 2018

@Chris. You can wait for the $35k vehicles with textile seats if you don't want "oil-based" material. Are you going to get rid of every plastic thing you have? Why worry about the seats? You probably sit on vinyl chairs all the time.

Hausandr | 25 juillet 2018

@Slidely @ravis
Those aren't seat covers at T-Sportline. The upgrade is a complete seat replacement, front & rear.

I'm not a big fan of the Tesla really white seats so I plan getting a different color from T-Sportline.

jrzapata | 25 juillet 2018

@joe.lynn.atp no one can tell you about durability right now. Everyone is new.
I use a thick yoga mat and a cloth “hammock” to transport my 70 lbs Rhodesian ridgeback mix. No problems at all (other than the darn hair)

silverslim1 | 26 juillet 2018

Just a point of interest. Petroleum is really a plant based material...just made from very very old plants!

ravisundaramam | 26 juillet 2018

silverslim "Just a point of interest. Petroleum is really a plant based material...just made from very very old plants!"

By that logic petrol and coal are actually solar energy transmitted through time!

A child asked Buckminister Fuller "What is fire?". He started the narrative with the large forest with trees opening their branches wide drinking in the sunlight and ended it with, " ... and the fire, my dear, is the sunlight unwinding from the oak logs." | 26 juillet 2018

I investigated the ultra-leather type material that I believe Tesla (and other car manufacturers) use when avoiding real leather. On an automated wear test machine simulating butt rubs, it lasts about 10 times longer than leather before there is visible wear. Look at any leather car that is 20+ years old and the leather is usually cracking and stained. You will get far longer life out of the ultra-leather type material, without any upkeep that leather requires.

The one minor downside (for some owners) is a lack of leather smell you get for the first 6 months or so. Seems the Japanese figured some way to eliminate even the smell from real leather in new cars. I sort of like the leather smell. Don't bother with the cheap "leather" car scent - the ones I've tried are truly awful and nothing like quality leather.

les.freed | 26 juillet 2018

When I bought my model 3, I traded in a 2012 Mercedes E350 with nearly 80,000 miles on it. The MB-Tex seats (MB's high quality vinyl-over-fabric material) still looked like new, with no cracks or fading. I'll be thrilled if the Vegan leather in the Model 3 looks as good six year down the road.

silverslim1 | 26 juillet 2018

@ravisundaramam Truth is truth. That petroleum is plant based material is indisputable. That is not to say we are happy using it for fuel...even though it is indeed "stored" solar energy. We all realize the consequences of that.

Magic 8 Ball | 26 juillet 2018

Petroleum is not an easily "renewable" energy source. That is all.

SpiritBear | 26 juillet 2018

Real leather is plant based material as well, since the cows eat the grass :)

NVHarmony | 26 juillet 2018

One word of warning: I found out the hard way that acetone dissolves whatever the seats are made of. I got a small drop of crazy glue on the driver seat cushion and tried a little bit of acetone to get it off. Oops. Don’t do that :)

Xerogas | 26 juillet 2018

@NVHarmony: "I got a small drop of crazy glue on the driver seat cushion and tried a little bit of acetone to get it off. Oops. Don’t do that :)"
Note to self: no more craft projects using crazy glue in the Model 3. Gotcha.

lilbean | 27 juillet 2018

Leather is animal skin. People should not be calling leather vegan. Ok. Carry on.

vmulla | 27 juillet 2018

Whoa!!! that's such an important bit of info for our family. Often times our car becomes a nail salon. Thanks to what you shared, No more!

charlie | 17 mars 2019

I'm guessing it is Alcantera - which doesn't wear that well. Nice when new, but...

kimawink | 18 mars 2019

Who can confidently pick the best product among those listed on this site?

top.leafysouls | 8 août 2019

I am a vegan so I go for vegan leather. I collect vegan items mostly from and vegan leather in the car is interesting where is it available?

thedrisin | 8 août 2019

@top.leafysouls. Any vehicle with vinyl seats. New types of vinyl seats are much improved. Available in many cars.

thedrisin | 8 août 2019

@top. The handbags on Leafy Souls apparently use PU (polyurethane) "leather."

lilbean | 8 août 2019

Lol vegan leather=plastic that makes you feel better saving the planet but you’re really just polluting the planet with more plastic.

andy.connor.e | 8 août 2019

Plastic is very good to breathe in

Joshan | 8 août 2019

so is Methane

Magic 8 Ball | 8 août 2019

Biodegradable plastic made from corn/vegi products are better than petroleum based plastics, so I am told. We all suck.

Varricks | 10 août 2019

I thought vegan leather came from non-carnivorous cows.