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Renault Zoe ZE50 R135 GT Line
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Some members here may already be aware of my continuing quest for a leather-free EV as a future alternative/upgrade from the Zoe… yes, I know there's no such thing as a fully vegan car, but I'd like to avoid actual cowhide, at least! (Please feel free to direct any comment on this to my private inbox, so to keep the thread on-topic, thanks!)

Inspired by the vegan leather on the EV6 (which would be perfect, if the car itself wasn't a tad too big and expensive for me - although I reserve the right to change my mind if at any point I get to test-drive one 😇), I've started looking at the e-Niro.

The brochure says Leather Trimmed Steering Wheel and Some parts of the leather upholstery contain faux leather, which - with the addition of some Internet research on the topic of Kia "lying" about using real leather - is vague enough to be inconclusive... so I've asked a few dealers, and I've had a different answer from each of them 😓 ranging from "it's all genuine leather" to "it's all completely synthetic".

One dealer said:
My answer is based on our Kia Training. Kia do not use Real Leather in any of our vehicles due to the environmental effects producing and applying real leather has.
Obviously I would like to believe it (if true, I could also consider a Soul EV), but I can't exclude the possibility that it was just a case of tell-customers-what-they-want-to-hear... which, ironically, could also be the case for the opposite answers that I got when I specifically tried to formulate the question in a neutral way: I suppose most people would inquire because they want real leather, not to avoid it.

I've requested a callback from Kia Customer Service to see if they can shed some definitive light on the matter, but in the meantime I would like to ask the opinion of e-Niro owners on the forum... would you say your seats and steering wheels are genuine or synthetic leather? Thanks in advance!
 

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E-Niro 64kWh '4' since 9/20 (was Prius)
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You can’t trust a word the car dealers say IMHO. They won’t have a clue in reality, but they will never say that. They will virtually always make up some BS answer instead.

I've read that even experts struggle to differentiate real leather from fake stuff as the fake is so realistic. I reckon there is very little (if any) genuine hide in my Eniro car. Though I am only guessing. Actually I wish the seats were all velour fabric as I find them to be much more comfortable than leather.

There's certainly no leather aroma in the car. When new I found the cabin smell quite nauseating for a couple of months as all the materials were probably out gassing their (probably toxic) stuff. Still loving the car though. Peter
 

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Kia E Niro 4
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I'm not convinced that the 'leather' in my 2020 E-Niro 4 is real, my guess it's an upmarket PVC pretending to be leather
 

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Actually I wish the seats were all velour fabric as I find them to be much more comfortable than leather.
Second this, the surface material in "leather" seats in Niro is rough and not breathing, keeps my back sweaty even at moderate temperatures. Seat ventillation does not help, as it blows very cold air, so I run it for 15-30 seconds only every few minutes, repeatedly. Real leather in my other car was way better, even without seat ventillation.

Better avoid full leather trim in Niro.
 

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Kia E-niro 4+
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I’m no expert, but the seats don’t feel like real leather. The steering wheel feels plasticky too when compared to previous leather wheels I’ve had. But not conclusive either way.

Actually I wish the seats were all velour fabric as I find them to be much more comfortable than leather.
Absolutely. I’d go for a below-budget model to get such seats! I hate how leather is perceived as a high end things. Especially when it’s a cheap implementation.

Having owned the car for a few months, I would say my main gripes are the pseudo ‘posh’-effect finishes. The gloss black, “leather” interior, the chrome finishes etc.

I’ve even got used to the chimes!

Still a fantastic car all-in-all. A bit of restraint in the “lets make it look (subjectively) classy without spending any money” design pass, it could have been almost perfect.
 

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Polite question.

Is synthetic leather plastic? If the answer is yes, then do you need to check that it's recyclable?
 

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It’s strange as apparently this information cannot be found from Kia’s own manuals or websites.
Google “SynTex Kia seats” and a lot of articles pops up.

My understanding is that only premium brands (or more expensive models) use genuine leather anymore as the synthetic ones are cheaper, require less maintenance and are easier to “produce” for mass manufacturing.


Synthetic seats are plastics. So are cloth seats nowadays. It is just what those are trying to mimic.
 

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Kia E Niro 4
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I would always go for cloth seats if possible, leather gets far to hot, well black anyway.
 

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I'm not crazy, the attack has begun.
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Second this, the surface material in "leather" seats in Niro is rough and not breathing, keeps my back sweaty even at moderate temperatures.
What makes you think automotive leather (stuffed with a heavy load of chemicals to prevent it degrading in the arduous conditions it is exposed to) 'breathes'?

Is this some pub-talk claim you are making or something genuine.

Hold the end of a vacuum cleaner on to leather and it sucks against it just as much and as vigorously as any solid non-breathing material.

There is some sort of pompous arrogant belief that leather is superior in some way. I've never figured out in what way it is superior.

I recall considering a Merc E class years ago and I enquired as to whether the car in the showroom had MB-Tex seats or leather. The salesman was virtually apoplectic in his indignance at the suggestion the seats were plastic!

What he misunderstood is that I wanted MB-Tex, for precisely the reason that no-one can tell the difference, and I think the car did actually have MB-Tex, going on the model letter coding, but I couldn't be bothered about the car after his reaction.

I call BS on automotive leather 'breathing'. It's nonsense rubbish, as far as I can tell. While the leather is on the animal, it does so very slightly Once stripped off the animal's flesh and put through a zillion chemical baths, I doubt it, would like some evidence.

There is little that is natural about leather in a car, it is a natural product doused in chemicals.

Pick cloth seats every time.
 

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Eniro 4+
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I would always go for cloth seats if possible, leather gets far to hot, well black anyway.
Agreed. It's the one thing I'd really change on my 4+. I'd have certainly have gone for cloth if it was available.
 

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Renault Zoe ZE50 R135 GT Line
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
You can’t trust a word the car dealers say IMHO. They won’t have a clue in reality, but they will never say that. They will virtually always make up some BS answer instead.
Yeah, I'm starting to be convinced of that...

Is synthetic leather plastic? If the answer is yes, then do you need to check that it's recyclable?
I wouldn't think it is, but then again the genuine leather in car seats (with all the chemical used for its treatment) is probably not going to be recycled either... my motivation for avoiding leather is animal suffering, more than environmental concerns (although those are valid too, of course). Again, I'm happy to engage with this aspect of the question in private to keep the thread focused 😄

It’s strange as apparently this information cannot be found from Kia’s own manuals or websites.
Google “SynTex Kia seats” and a lot of articles pops up.
Yep! It would've been so much easier if they had just called them that, instead of adding that vague footnote...

Thanks for all of your replies. Agree that cloth seats would be preferable anyway... and indeed, the 2 Long Range (with its part-cloth/part-leather seats) is the trim I'm looking at - mostly because it's eligible for the grant, but also because wireless CarPlay seems more useful than anything that the 3 and 4+ trims add... except maybe the wireless charging, which defeats the purpose of wireless CarPlay anyway 🤔

Anyway the question still stands for the part-leather and the leather trimmed steering wheel!
 

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Does it scratch easily? I had a Mitsubishi with faux leather wheel and scratched it a couple of times with my nails. The faux leather wheel in the Leaf didn't seem to have that problem.
 

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2015 Golf Match Bluemotion 1.0 TSI
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Traditionally from the volume manufacturers any real leather only covers the seat squab and back rest that the driver is in contact with. The backs and sides of backs, bases and door cards etc are synthetic vinyl.
I like leather and had my factory cloth replaced by DK Schweitzer. All Bridge of Weir Scottish leather everywhere and half the price of the VW option.
Leather is easy to clean - just wipe with a damp cloth.
 
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There is little that is natural about leather in a car, it is a natural product doused in chemicals.

Pick cloth seats every time.
Of course the leather seats in the i3 were pushed at launch by being tanned using natural materials derived from oil from olive leaves (I believe it was the leaves) and not synthetic chemical processes, BMW heavily leaning on the sustainability of the entire manufacturing process.

As far as MB I agree completely the faux leather in their vehicles is as good if not better than any real leather, I’m just not sure how friendly to the environment the manufacturing process would be for that particular material?
 

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You can’t trust a word the car dealers say IMHO. They won’t have a clue in reality, but they will never say that. They will virtually always make up some BS answer instead.
The only thing a dealer will willingly tell you is what they think you want to hear, for the sole purpose of progressing as swiftly as possible onto securing your signature on the sales order form.

Caveat emptor!

There's certainly no leather aroma in the car. When new I found the cabin smell quite nauseating for a couple of months as all the materials were probably out gassing their (probably toxic) stuff.
not "probably"....absolutely ... The gassing is know as "chemical fogging" , the clue is in the name, so yes, toxic vapors are being released into the cabin for you to inhale. (I wont bother describing what thay are, you wouldn't be happy knowing)

In fact when I collected my car the sales 'executive' stated as I got in " its got that lovely new car smell" 🥴😷. I hesitated a moment... then thought, I'll leave it there, as I had a busy schedule that day.

PVC pretending to be leather
The whole world seems to revolve and has evolved with such pretence (aka lies) in many forms, humans are such gullible creatures and are easily convinced and swayed by the brainwashing and opinion of others into believing that the choices that we make are valid and justifyable.

I guess that the reality is that nobody would purchase a car from a salesperson who told you that "well sir/madam our fantastic car contains a multitude of products responsible for the release of huge amounts of toxic chemicals and pollutants into the environment, spread dioxin and other hazardous compounds into the air, into our drinking water, and into our food....oh and by the way, you'll be driving around in your tin box inhaling a toxic "chemical fog". "So it fits your needs perfectly...sign here"

So we are enticed to purchase by marketing spin to mask these realities with buzz words that we laughingly willingly accept in order to justify our purchasing decision by making us feel good.

Its all BS and has gone on since adam produced the apple! (Allegedly, or could this story "spin" too 🤔)

Having owned the car for a few months, I would say my main gripes are the pseudo ‘posh’-effect finishes. The gloss black, “leather” interior, the chrome finishes etc.
“lets make it look (subjectively) classy without spending any money” design
I agree, far too much emphasis is placed on style over function these days. You can make a piece of 💩 look exciting if you put it in a shiney box with a bow on it 🎁

I’ve even got used to the chimes!
Sadly, I have to admit.... me too🥴. Its amazing how conditioned we become over time to accepting nonsense.

Is synthetic leather plastic?
Well, who knows if even the manufacturer doesn't?

It is more than likely pvc, which ironically, although it being marketed as "vegan", ( presumably to give the manufacturer some creedence to being responsible and caring and to fit-in with the current trends ) is the most polluting and least recyclable 'plastic' derivitive on the market.

Goods marketed as "synthetic" come with the implied stigma that they have been produced using chemicals, almost all of which are toxic in nature.

Obviously the manufacturer know exactly what they are made from but dont want to disclose it for obvious reasons.

Hence why they use smoke-screen terminology such as "vegan" & "faux".
 

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Kia e-Niro 4 MY20, Zoe Z.E.50 GT Line
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I’m far more interested in the work done to use recycled materials, which I believe Renault did with bits the Zoe GT-Line than anything else.

referring to something as “vegan” does essentially seem to mean “made from crude oil”. I get we have different priorities but I can’t see this as a positive.

the steering wheel of our Niro 4 appears to be the same as our previous Skoda Fabia and that didn’t make any claims to being leather.
 

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Renault Zoe ZE50 R135 GT Line
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I’m far more interested in the work done to use recycled materials, which I believe Renault did with bits the Zoe GT-Line than anything else.

referring to something as “vegan” does essentially seem to mean “made from crude oil”. I get we have different priorities but I can’t see this as a positive.
That’s fair enough, and I suppose I could just stick with a Zoe (upgrading to a GT Line when going from Onto to a lease) for a while longer… but while I can compromise with plastics (can’t really avoid them without becoming a hermit), I just wouldn’t be comfortable holding a dead animal’s skin.

***
Update: a different person from the same dealership, when asked about the Soul EV, has confirmed:

All our vehicles use a leather substitute due to environmental factors in production
 

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***
Update: a different person from the same dealership, when asked about the Soul EV, has confirmed:
"All our vehicles use a leather substitute due to environmental factors in production."

I'm guessing that he wasnt forthcoming in elaborating on what "enviromental factors" were considered when choosing this "substitute" material🤔?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
He wasn’t, but the toxicity of chemicals involved in the treatment of cowhide to become leather is well known (or can be with a modicum of research) - and I’m fairly certain that it wouldn’t be worse than what’s involved for a synthetic replacement, as bad as plastic production can be…
 
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