Expert Insights

The Most Eco-Friendly Cars

Dave Nichols
July 8, 2023
Tomorrow’s Green Cars won’t just feature more efficient motors and batteries, they’ll be made with sustainable, recycled materials. Here are a few current cars that offer plant-based vegan leather, recycled plastics, and more.
electric car parked in a green and grassy park

Going Totally Green

Today’s hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric cars are leading the way towards a more sustainable future. But that goes far beyond using greener energy and having vehicles that are more efficient and environmentally friendly. EVs today and in the future will be made from an amazing array or new materials including plant-based interiors, recycled steel and plastics, and cutting-edge technology to make our cars greener than ever.

2020 BMW i8 Ultimate Sophisto Edition front seats

Vegan Leather

It looks and feels like animal hide but is made from sustainable, plant-based materials such as mushrooms, cactus, and pineapple. Vegan leather is also heat resistant and waterproof. Best of all, it’s totally biodegradable, contains no animal products and is cruelty free.

Mazda MX-30 Cork Console Tray

Bio-Based Materials

Traditional exotic wood panels used in luxury cars are being replaced by repurposed wood, cork, and fast-growing fibers from bamboo and sustainably managed eucalyptus wood. Interior materials are even made from woven flax and even hemp.

woman holding pile of empty water bottles

Recycled Materials

Nearly 55 percent of automobiles are made from steel and 100 percent of that steel can be reused to make new cars. Almost 50 percent of auto components are made from plastic and today, that plastic is being reused as well as recycled plastics from water bottles to make everything from seats to dash panels, headliners, carpet and more.

Automakers are currently experimenting with materials for hybrid and zero emission vehicles that will mean zero negative impact on our world. Here are five vehicles that are leading the way to an eco-friendly future that you can buy today.

2020 BMW i8 parked on street by Eiffel Tower

BMW i3

This amazing little car uses a lot of plant-based materials in its construction. Olive leaves are used to tan its vegan leather, interior dash and side panels are made from renewable, natural fibers, the open-pore eucalyptus wood trim has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and was finished with a minimum of processing.

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

Ford F-150 Lightning

Ford has been a leader in using recycled materials in their vehicles. The seat cushions in the Lightning are made from soy foam and soy oil is used in the rubber seals. Vegan leather seats are made from plant-based materials and recycled plastic bottles help make up the door panels and headliner. Other composite plastic parts are made from rice by-products. Seals and gaskets come from recycled tires.

Jeep Renegade traveling on an open road in the daytime

Jeep Renegade 4xe

Ocean-sourced recycled plastic make up the material used in the Jeep’s seats, headliner, and floormats. Plastics that were once used in headlights have been reused to create door panels, side panels, the dash, and other components. The 4xe is a plug-in hybrid 4x4 that is the most efficient Jeep ever.

2021 Nissan LEAF charging

Nissan Leaf

Ever wonder what happens to your old plastic bottles? They could have been made into the seats in your Nissan Leaf EV. This all-electric car is all-in for being made from recycled plastics, metals, and even recycled clothing. The recycled bottles make up seat fabric and cushions, recycled plastics form the console and dash panels, recycled clothes are processed and made into insulation, and much of the metal in the car comes from recycled appliances and cars.

2022 Volvo C40 Recharge

Volvo C40 Recharge

The all-electric C40 includes and all vegan leather interior. No animals were harmed in making this stunning Volvo SUV. In fact, the leather-look seats are made from post-consumer plastics and renewable wool fibers. Sustainable materials continue including trim panels made from recycled plastics, and the carpet is entirely made from plastic bottles.

Woman exiting car with smile

Earth-Friendly Rides

As our vehicles become more sustainable, all automakers will include more and more recycled materials in our green cars. From a high percentage of recycled plastics and steel to incredible bio-based materials to make our car biodegradable and earth-friendly.