Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) has branded itself as being a very green company, but a recent report suggests that may not be true. From ditching petrol to embracing electric, Tesla seems to be making the right moves. But what about its use of animal products?
Vegans Urge Tesla to go Vegan
During the company’s annual shareholders meeting Tuesday, two Texas shareholders urged CEO Elon Musk to end the practice of using animal products for interior elements like leather seats.
Mark and Elizabeth Peters introduced two proposals. The first would reduce the use of animal-sourced materials and end the addition by 2019 in all cars. The other would be for Tesla to offer the very first so-called cruelty-free premium car brand.
The ideas were well received from those in attendance. But the stockholders denied the proposals, according to a filing published Wednesday. That didn’t prevent Stephanie Downs, a representative from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which is also a Tesla shareholder, from challenging Musk directly.
Downs outlined the effects of leather manufacturing on the environment and offered to give Tesla a list of companies that create vegan leather alternatives. Musk was open to the suggestions and assured Downs “we’ll look into it.”
Other auto companies already install faux-leather, cruelty-free interiors in their cars, including Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (ETR:BMW), Lexus and Mercedes-Benz.
Tesla Claims it Has Vegan Options
However, one company spokesperson told the Sydney Morning Herald that Tesla does in fact give customers vegan options. Cloth seats are standard equipment in Tesla vehicles. Leather interiors are an option.
“Tesla does offer a vegan option to customers who express that this is a priority for them,” said Khobi Brooklyn, a corporate spokeswoman, said in a statement to the news outlet. “If they want no leather in their car, the customer would choose the Multi-Pattern black seats which have a synthetic leather trim and then custom-order a vegan steering wheel.”
Tesla has fulfilled such orders, says Brooklyn.
PETA Wants Change at Tesla
Nevertheless, PETA believes becoming completely leather-free would allow Tesla the opportunity to diminish its carbon footprint. Although it seems like Tesla is being scrutinized, one senior official at PETA confirmed the company is not being singled out.
“We ask companies in a host of industries to reduce their carbon footprint by using only vegan leather,” said Anne Kellogg, PETA’s senior corporate liaison, in a statement. “We encourage all companies, including automakers to use only innovative high-tech interiors.”
PETA says it does own shares and hopes it can work Tesla on its series of proposals.