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The KIA EV6 and BMW iX are not just EVs, they’re vegan, too!

The KIA EV6 and BMW iX are not just EVs, they’re vegan, too!

Charge is inevitable. Wait, did I spell that right? I meant, change is inevitable. Well, in any case, both are right. Electrified transport is coming, whether you’re ready or not.

Electrified transport will happen because it needs to happen, for the sake of the vulnerable billions of people; because the burning of fossil fuels is altering our climate at an alarming pace, and an overwhelming majority of the global human population cannot adapt as quickly. A worldwide switch from petroleum to electricity by the transport industries will significantly lessen greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions—the primary driver of climate change. However, this alone isn’t going to solve the climate crisis. Mass electrification of mobility will also lead to a host of new problems, no doubt, but so will solutions to the new issues that arise.

And, mind you, the climate crisis is not just a result of our mobility preferences. Our burgeoning population has come to the point that the entire spectrum of our species’ existence, in fact, already influences climate—from the way we move around, to the way we dispose of our waste, to the way we eat, and clothe ourselves.

The number of humans is expected to break the 8-billion mark sometime later this year, according to the United Nations. Think about this number when you consider the dietary consumption of an average human. According to theworldcounts. com, humans consume on average 350 million tons of animal meat every year. An Oxford University study in 2018 showed that meat and dairy industries are responsible for 60 percent of global GHG emissions, and if individuals removed animal products (beef, pork, chicken, marine life) from their diets, they would reduce their carbon footprint by as much as 73 percent.

So, if you ask me what an ideal EV (electric vehicle) would be, I would say, “It’s what you don’t find under the hood, and inside the cabin.” That means, an EV that would truly champion the advocacy for climate change mitigation doesn’t run on fossil fuels, AND doesn’t use animal products in its interiors.

I’m glad to see that the trend for EVs that also offer vegan (or plant-based) interiors is growing. More buyers are also becoming aware of the strong link between the animal industry and climate change, and have thus been clamoring for more environment-friendly and compassionately-made vehicles. I’m seeing more EVs (electric vehicles) that boast of seats, steering wheels, and gear shifters wrapped in faux leather (meaning, no animal skin was used, and not one creature was slaughtered in the car’s creation and assembly).

I’m also quite delighted that, well, thanks to the pandemic, I see a lot of people becoming more attached, or empathetic, to their pets. I can now only hope that their heightened affections for their furry home companions may somehow spill over to the billions upon billions of other creatures, such as pigs, horses, goats, sheep, chickens, cows, and other farm animals who face unbearable torture and slaughter—all because they—unlike our beloved pets—received the unfortunate designation as mere livestock for commodification, be it on the dining table, in clothes and accessories, or around the seats of cars.

Faux leather materials, according to its makers, already closely resemble its animal-sourced counterpart both in feel and finish. This was evident at the recently concluded Philippine International Motor Show (PIMS), where sleek, sporty-looking EVs with cruelty-free interiors were displayed.

For example, the all-electric crossover KIA EV6 has vegan leather, as revealed to me by KIA Philippines. This crossover SUV, which has been awarded a 5-Star NCAP rating, as well as the European Car of the Year title, boasts of long-range, zero-emissions power, 800V ultra-fast charging, and distinctive styling. The EV6 is KIA’s first car based on the company’s dedicated new platform for battery electric vehicles (BEVs).

The KIA EV6 and its supporting charging ecosystem were the centerpieces of the KIA PIMS display. This signals the brand’s pivotal shift into the EV market.

KIA Philippines President Manny Aligada said: “Our event signifies KIA’s commitment to realizing our social responsibility through our 3S activities— sustainable mobility, sustainable energy, sustainable planet. Sustainability is a future not just for KIA, as the Ayala group has committed to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This is a guideline KIA believes in and is a focal point in our business. Sustainability is our move to protect the greatest source of inspiration, nature.”

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Aligada also shared that Ayala Land reinforces its commitment towards sustainable and responsible property development. In keeping with the company’s thrust and longterm commitment, it supports the use of alternative energy sources. Further, it aligns with the global and local directive to shift to more EVs. And in the coming weeks, over 20 EV charging stations will be rolled out across seven cities in Luzon.

The BMW iX, which was also on display at the PIMS, offers a vegan leather option globally. I’m not certain, though, if a vegan leather option will be offered when the iX becomes commercially available here.

On the global scene, however, BMW has been working with several startups to launch vegan leather interiors in 2023 that will redefine “luxury,” as reported by veganfoodandliving.com.

According to the German luxury car brand, most of the emissions produced from leather come from methane gas from cattle rearing. The remaining 20 percent comes from processing the cowhide, which is both energy- and water-intensive. Switching to vegan leather interiors would help BMW meet its central goal of climate neutrality as it aims to cut its overall carbon emissions and reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

Hooray, then, for automakers making earnest efforts to make their cars both sustainable (EVs) and cruelty-free (vegan interiors). But it’s still a long, long road to the 100-percent vegan car. Animal parts and by-products can be found all over, not just in the insides of cars. Did you know that the chemical compound stearic acid, produced from basic animal fats, are a component of the rubber used in tires, and that animal fats are also used in the production of steel itself? That’s a horror story for another time.