What is automotive leather?
Leather in vehicles has been used for well over 100 years. It all began before the motor vehicle arrived with horse drawn carriages seating, this was the driving force behind the designs for the automotive worlds seats.
Automotive leathers began as vegetable tanned leather with no protection of surface colour applied. Looking at ways of improving the seating on the automotive world, they looked to saddles, then introduced oils and fats providing waterproofing for car seats, making them a much greater usable item and lasting longer.
A vintage car from 1901
Further improvements were then made to give car leathers a protective layer and coating with pigmentation applied. This enabled the leathers to be more resilient to stains, moisture and dirt.
This type of leather was used up to the 80s. Normal characteristics of this is the reverse side of the hides was almost always a brown shade.
With the emphasis put on the conditions in the environment this was changed to a chrome tanning process.
Not every car produced has a full leather interior. Many materials are used from alcantara to synthetic leather like artico and sensatec and more recently split leathers.
When buying a car today always ask the questions, what’s my interior actually made of? A great deal of cars today do not have genuine leather interiors even though they are being sold as a leather interior.
Long gone of the days of the world-famous British manufacturer called Connoly, famous for its connections to Rolls Royce and the production of veg tanned leathers.
Some manufacturers stand out more than others. Bugatti has been one of those who always exuded quality, using some of the most amazing leathers in vehicle including full ostrich skin interiors.
Taking care of automotive leather today is even more important than before, a great deal of miss leading information is around claiming not to clean and protect your leathers of today. Its more important to protect today than ever before due to a great deal of car leather being synthetic, it easily wears down and breaks down. How can this be environmentally stable and good for the environment if production has to done many times during the life of a vehicle compared to a few years ago? The impact this is having on the environment is far worse today than when a car leather was full genuine leather.
The likes of BMW with Sensatec seats, this came about after BMW rebranded the vinyl seating to sensatec, prior to this they called them leatherette.
Mercedes are similar with Artico interiors, basically you have vinyl seats and the amount of people we see today who believe they have leather only to be disappointed that they find they have plastic is staggering.
Lexus offer a great deal of models with semi aniline leathers but have introduced NuLuxe again another synthetic material that isn’t leather.
Tesla is another company, again the seats are not leather. Tesla refer to these as “Tesla Premium” what they call vegan leather, how can something be called leather if its vegan again another play on words for people to believe they have leather seats, when in fact they have synthetic seats.
Rolls Royce produce some of the finest cars and interiors today. In developmental electric Rolls Royce produced in 2011 returned to its vegetable roots with the Corinova leather a chrome free leather. A very natural leather lending itself only to certain colour choices, with exceptional quality and touches.
Corinova leather interior Rolls Royce – Vegetable Tanned Leather
Taking care and cleaning your artificial seats is the same process as vinyl and leather, just make sure when cleaning leather seats that you don’t use an alcohol based or ammonia based cleaner. Both alcohol and ammonia will break down the leathers surface coating creating damage and will also break down the synthetic materials as well. Do not apply oils or other chemicals, the best methods are using a soft bristle brush with natural water-based leather cleaning solutions with protection creams or sprays applied to help prevent dirt, stains and wear taking place.
BMW leather partly cleaned and fully cleaned with a natural water based leather cleaner.