Elon Musk and Tesla have been a driving force behind the popularization of electric vehicles, providing an alternative to traditional gas-powered engines.
Now some shareholders want the company to become more ethical by ending the use of animal products in its vehicles. Two shareholders outlined their proposal at the Tesla annual meeting on Tuesday, writes Dana Hull for Bloomberg.
Proposal would make Tesla the first “cruelty-free” premium car brand
Mark and Elizabeth Peters, a pair of shareholders who hail from Hurst, Texas, proposed that the company stop using animal-sourced materials for components such as leather seats. One proposal is a plan to reduce their use over the next few years before a complete ban by 2019. They also asked Tesla to think about the possibility of becoming the first “cruelty-free” premium car brand in the world.
“Tesla does offer a vegan option to customers who express that this is a priority for them,” said company spokeswoman Khobi Brooklyn in an email. “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.”
However Elizabeth Peters believes that the company is not doing enough to provide for vegan customers. She said that her husband Mark was forced to go through “extreme measures” in order to ensure that the Tesla he bought her was fully vegan.
Plan unlikely to be adopted
“Tesla can continue to fill cars with the skins of sentient beings that suffer unspeakable horror,” said Peters, who told the assembled shareholders that she grew up on a veal farm. “Or, Tesla can adopt one of the many faux-leather interiors used by Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, BMW, Infiniti and others, that are cruelty-free.”
The company board recommended a vote against both proposals. They worry that looking into alternatives to leather might “impede or delay” the company by distracting its attention from tasks which are of a higher priority.
Tesla stated that the results of shareholder balloting are likely to be released within four business days.
Elon Musk was later offered assistance in looking into vegan alternatives to leather by a representative from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “We’ll look into it,” Musk said.