Tesla owners are complaining that their vegan leather upholstery is bubbling, and that the automaker refuses to do anything about it.
Community members on Tesla Motors Club, a popular forum for Tesla owners, say the upholstery on their seats is not up to par.
One member, Gidster99, recently said that the upholstery on her driver seat’s insert panel has formed an unsightly bubble.
When Gidster99 contacted Tesla about the issue, they said the bubble was her fault, and therefore not covered under warranty.
According to Gister99, here’s Tesla’s response: “After submitting the photos supplied of your driver seat concern for investigation with our engineers, the root cause has been advised is due to ‘Anything from lotions, sunscreen, hair sprays or gels, hand sanitizers, e-cigarette or vape pen liquid, cleaning products, swimming pool chlorine.’ Due to the issue not being a manufacturing defect, we’re unable to process a replacement seat as a warranty claim.”
Gidster99 said Tesla’s answer is inadequate because she didn’t use any lotions or chemicals on the seat, and none could have rubbed off from the portion of her body that touched it.
She asked other Tesla owners if their vegan leather upholstery also bubbled. Many said it did, especially on the headrests.
Envchem, one forum member, said a Tesla rep told him that the damage to his headrest was caused by hair products. “When I mentioned that I have no hair, they claimed it was the oils from my skin,” he said.
“At the end, they replaced it under warranty as a gesture of good will one time only,” he said. “I was advised to wipe the headrest each time I am off the car… ended up putting on a seat cover. Looks fugly, but saves me the trouble.”
GRiLLA, another member, shared an excerpt from his Tesla’s handbook, which cautions: “Using solvents (including alcohol), alcohol-based gel products (such as hand sanitizer), bleach, citrus, naphtha, or silicone-based products or additives on interior components can cause damage.”
A Tesla owner told Drive Tesla Canada that when he experienced similar issues, a company rep told him oily skin and beauty products have an adverse effect on Tesla’s brand of vegan leather.
“The root cause is related to the vegan polyurethane resin being susceptible to swell under the action of certain chemicals, some of which are found in cosmetics and head oil within a certain pH spectrum,” the owner said he was a told. “When there is extended contact with the chemical at high temperature (a hot car), the chemical diffuses into the coating, it swells, overwhelms the adhesive holding the coating to the textile, and the coating delaminates. A bubble is formed.”
We reached out to Tesla to clarify the issue, but have not heard back.
Regardless, it’s an interesting development, especially with how popular Tesla’s vegan leather has become.
But as one member of the Tesla Motors Club forum pointed out: “If a product which you sit on can’t cope with the oil from people’s skin [or ordinary beauty products], then it’s surely not fit for purpose!”
Kevin Balser says
That looks like what I like to call “Lear Jet” or. “Levitt’s” leather. It always fails because it is not 100% animal.
They legally can call it leather but I ethically can’t.
Rodger Pisani says
The term ” Vegan Leather” always makes me laugh… isn’t that a contradiction of itself? Hahahaha
Nadeem Muaddi says
Yup. Definitely is a contradiction.
It’s vinyl with fancy branding, at best.
Naveen N says
Same as “humanely” raised or humanely slaughtered. Yeah ok its humane to keep people in cages for their lives and fatten them up with mostly one food, and then shove a knife in their throat.
No existe cuero ecológico o vegano.
De hecho no es cuero.
What about “Vegan Burger”?
Absolutely! And Musk says that no cow has to die for his cars. No cattle is slaughtered for its hide. Real leather is the oldest recycling product of mankind and vegan leather is nothing but PU or PVC plastic shit. As long as we eat meat there is no alternative for real leather.
It s plastic just plastic … no leather at all
Totalmente, es así.
Y no llevan bolsas del super haciéndose los ecologistas y andan en autos de plástico.
De acuerdo contigo.
Tom Hatfield says
There is absolutely no animal products in vegan leather. It is a polyurethane coated fabric. Totally man-made and sensitive to solvent-based products
Rodger Pisani says
This is going to be a great money maker for us trimmers! Thanks Mr. Musk!!
Johnny Ritcheson says
Kinda looks that way doesnt it???
Don Franzini says
Removing the seats to do the trim work on some models are a pain… we would remove the seat covers in the car to make repairs…. Just a heads up … charge accordingly
Bravo to Tesla for using vegan leather. We need to stop associating animal skin AKA leather, as luxury in vehicles and elsewhere. It represents death and suffering, so it’s rather sad that Tesla is considered innovative and forward thinking here. Nonetheless let’s celebrate what is true. The great option to have no animals killed so we can have a nice place to sit is heartwarming.. Hopefully people want to be part of the transition to both electric and sustainable interior. So what if it has to be replaced now and again. Let’s build a better world. So pleased Tesla is offering this nice option for the interior.
Justin Rash says
You do realize Tesla is just catering to this portion of the market. Smart sales tactic. Love the fact they call it “Vegan” Leather. I mean did the animals skinned just eat vegetation? Ha or the recycled leather backing come from a plant? Best yet how did they laminate this so called “Vegan”… I can almost bet it was a petroleum based product. How about all the interior panels and thousands of other components on the Tesla’s. Most of them are most likely built with petroleum based products. None off my comment is fact based just thinking out loud. Not trying to be negative but I feel it’s all a marketing tactic. Honestly I’m open minded so if you can show me some info saying how dumb I sound that’d be great.
It does remind me of the vinyl like leather in 90’s SeaRay dinettes. Delaminates pretty bad.
Clearly you don’t realize that NO animals are killed for the leather. Automotive leather is a byproduct (waste) of the meat and dairy industry. Turning those raw hides into beautiful, long lasting interiors, which by the way are biodegradable, compostable and recyclable is more sustainable vs sending them to a landfill. Do you realize animals do not add additional carbon load to the atmosphere because methane comes back to earth through photosynthesis, turned into carbs that animals eat and the cycle starts again? Is it better to go after fossil fuels by digging for oil ADDING ADDITIONAL carbon load to the atmosphere.
Stan Mance says
Thank you for the accurate and appropriate reply to the original uninformed comment.
Beautiful words and above all beautiful conditions. But in reality these seats are made of “plastic” which, in addition to killing an infinite number of aquatic animals, is poisoning the very little “potable” water on the planet. then it is absolutely not true that animals are killed to make leather products, animals (cattle in the case of the automotive industry) are raised and killed for meat. Leather is a waste product that is recovered and transformed into a “luxury good” if we stop using it, we will produce more pollution, in fact the leather would be piled up in landfills or in some cases burned (other CO2 emissions = increase in temperature global = melting of glaciers = death of humans and other animals)… .. now tell me… who are the killers?
Flavio Lucchese says
So much ignorance on your words, make me really sad. So you are saying we kill a caw to get the hide and make leather automotive seat?? Don’t you realize that we actually kill the animal for the meat and the hide is a sub product that We, Tanners transform this natural product into all kinds of durable things??? We have been a sustainable industry since man made shoes and garments for the first time. Leather is sustainable, synthetic materials are not, if you want to help the environment stop buying synthetic whatever and buy leather please.
the reality is one, no one kills an animal to tan leather, the use of leather dates back thousands of years and was the first recycling made by human beings, we managed to take a discard and transform it into a spectacular, durable and noble material. unfortunately the world is living an informative and not reflective moment, because anyone talks shit and many others believe instead of studying research and understanding the truth about the subject. and don’t forget the law of the universe it’s simple, energy consuming energy and it’s the only way to survive, plants eat the earth, herbivores eat the plants and carnivores eat herbivores, and from the earth to the carnivore they are all living organisms, so let’s not be hypocritical.
For your information the animals are not killed to make leather!…leather is a byproduct from the meat / dairy industry.
Have it clear in your head, if the hides from the meat industry are not tanned to make leather there will be a huge environmental problem of hundreds of thousand of hides that will end up in land fills, instead of being recycled into a beautiful long lasting product which is real leather!
Vegan Leather = plastic which is a lot more harmful to the environment that true real leather
Totalmente de acuerdo!
No puedo creer que no lo vean.
Massimo SCABBIA says
I dare to say that you do not know how meat industry works. But in spite of this you wrote 8 lines.
De qué fuente sale la electricidad para tu carro eléctrico?
Generadora a carbón?
I like beef and I like the smell and texture of real leather. If you don’t want it thats cool but ill be dam if you get to take it away from me just because you dont.
Vegan movement remembers me when my mother explained after my birth, in the 60’s doctors said it was better milk powder than breast milk. Or it was better saccharine than sugar or better margarine than butter. 50 years after, all this bull shit was wrong. It’s known that natural products are the best option ever where through evolution is perfected. So leather is one of them!
To me is hilarious an electric car use a completely fossil fuel based plastic for their seat, but I know exactly why, real leather ( a byproduct of meat industry, so no animal killed for the skin) is a unique product, each leather has scratches and other distinctive sign coming from the animal also even it has far better meachanical properties compared to other textile its more time consuming to selecting sewing and assemble, tanneries are artisans to make good leather and takes time and money to transform it. Then you need to compare to these cheap rolls of plastic that Tesla uses made by machines kilometers a day, easy to cut because the surface is all even easier to sewing. So basically they fool people with world green, but you should know is the green of money..
100% de acuerdo.
Vegan leather is an oxymoron which is a contradiction of terms. and should not appear together. The issue is that people believe all the internet has to say whether it is true or not.
The truth is that Veganism is a life style choice and everyone is entitled to their own choice and opinion.
However the only benefit in this case is the extra profit that Tesla makes by using an inferior and cheaper raw material to leather and conning the consumer into believing they are doing this as it is more environmentally friendly.
Vegan Leather is made from fossil fuel and it is not environmentally friendly.
Leather is a product that has been used for thousands of years and has always been and always will be a by product of the meat industry.
When you look at the ever growing population on our planet the majority ,more than 85%, are carnivores and even if this figure does not change, the population will grow and the demand for meat will grow with it.
This means there is a lot of hides that need to be used or thrown away.
Automotive leather producers are amongst the most conscious manufacturers in the world and their CSR is second to none compared with all industry.
The issue is that people do not look for facts any more ,they look for trends and the belief that the car companies care about anything else other than profit or image is a big misunderstanding that the car companies are quite happy to allow as they are making a lot more money.
The truth is that leather has always been better than the alternatives and always will be.
Muy bien tu razonamiento!
Haseeb ul Haq says
Vegan is coming from Plants and Leather is coming from Animals.
So called “Tesla Vegan and Leather”(Nice Kind of Plastic) is not either Vegan or Leather.
It is just a metter of time they Strart getting Claims.
Plastic leather – the worst thing for the planet and for your car. The above comments which state that no animals are killed for leather are quite right.
Leather is made from a waste product from the meat industry. Males and female cattle are fattened for the meat industry and are slaughtered between 12-22 months. The butcher uses the meat and offal and the hides are sold to the tanneries, otherwise the hides would have to be disposed of and it would use energy as they couldn’t be just left to decompose.
Anyone who drinks milk or eats anything with milk in the ingredients – this comes from a cow. To get milk from a cow they have to get pregnant and calve every year as the milk dries up around 10 months after calving. There are over 200 million dairy cows on the planet. Dairy cows are culled around 6 years old. A good cow can produce 10,000 litres of milk per year. Male dairy calves are often killed at birth or fattened and slaughtered within a few months.
Currently the leather industry uses the hides mainly from beef male cows (steers) as they are larger. So half of the slaughtered beef cattle and all of the dairy cattle’s hides do not go to the tanneries. Estimates are that half the world cattle hides go to landfill around 150 million a year. It has been estimated that if the tanneries took no cattle hides the disposal costs for landfill could be $1.7 billion.
In the developed nations with their laws on energy use, waste disposal, animal husbandry, pollution and sustainability the leather industry has cleaned up it’s act with regards chemicals, waste and pollution and it is strictly regulated (unlike in India which has the most cattle in the world). If you don’t believe me just ask Volvo, Aston Martin, McLaren, Jaguar Land Rover and many national airlines – all of whom buy fine Scottish leather because of it’s sustainability, low carbon AND – it doesn’t bubble up like plastic ‘veggie leather’!
Roy Thorvaldsen says
There’s no such thing as “man made leather”, except babies – and I don’t think anyone’s upholstering car seats with’em (thank God not!)
Ash Jac says
My Tesla 3 headrest material has bubbled on the driver’s and since I have had skin irritation issues on my head and neck. When I stopped driving the Tesla it went away. Is anyone else experiencing anything like that? I’ve been told the polyurethane is “gassing” off. That doesn’t sound good or healthy. But maybe a coincidence?
Johnny Ritcheson says
Reading the comments only made me think two things. (1) “You can shit the fans but you cant shit the players”. Seems like some People think animals are killed for hides…..Plastic is ok for the environment though because ..well… because…well… Ya right its petroleum based and has a half life near nuclear fuel LOL WOW !!! seems like the players gotcha …I guess its the label “vegan” that was the shiny lure that got the “fans” again.. Im guessing the fans may be going for flat earth theory too right??
Edward Thomas says
Tesla is having this problem because they are using a cheap Asian supplier (Ultrafabrics) for this vegan leather. German car makers like BMW or VW have never had these problems because their leatherette is manufactured in Germany. Also real leather has more tensile strength and more stretchable than fake leather.