In an unexpected but welcomed twist, American multinational automotive manufacturing company General Motors (GM) has taken up an interest in biomaterials company MycoWorks. Signing a long term partnership agreement, they aim to develop Fine Mycelium™ materials with the goal of incorporating them into future automotive productions.
When analyzing industries and how sustainable they truly are, transportation, and particularly personal cars, can be a tricky subject to tackle. For those that make living sustainably a priority, opting for this means of transport can come with many obstacles and concerns. But whether we like it or not, cars are by far one of the most convenient transportation methods, and in some instances the only option. Even though the automotive industry isn’t a paradigm of sustainability, by any stretch of the imagination, it’s making moves to improve its standing.
While we can talk about the carbon emissions of this industry at nauseam, and we should, this bit of news looks at the interior builds.
It’s safe to say that most would consider leather as the most luxurious option for car interiors, and while faux leather has been available for years now, it has always been positioned as a budget alternative to the real thing, and often made with plastic.
Luckily things have been changing as the automotive industry is making strides towards somewhat of a greener future, with brands like Tesla having dropped leather seats back in 2017 and Volvo wanting to go leather free by 2030. At the same time, car manufactures are increasingly transitioning into more sustainable, non-plastic-based leather alternatives to the classic faux leather options.
With the ever growing developments in the alternative leather industry, plenty of new options are becoming available nearly daily. There’s Mazda, who uses a Premium Vintage Leatherette, which, even though is still a vinyl-based alternative, uses minimal organic solvents. Meanwhile, Lexus has its NuLuxe leather, which doesn’t use any volatile organic compounds, and thus reducescarbon emissions by 65 percent when compared to real leather.
The recent development from GM and MycoWorks is definitely an interesting move from an automotive enterprise. This investment from GM Ventures, GM’s investment branch, punctuates MycoWork’s endeavor into one of leather’s biggest market, revealing a significant opportunity to create more sustainable options for the automotive space.
“Working with General Motors to introduce Fine Mycelium to the automotive industry is an enormous step forward in the global new materials revolution,” said Matt Scullin, CEO of MycoWorks. “MycoWorks’ collaboration with GM is a first for us outside of the fashion industry, demonstrating the enormous potential and applications for Fine Mycelium.”
Having risen to notoriety with its Fine Mycelium technology, MycoWorks continues to push forward a new leather alternative paradigm. These developments have opened up a new reality, making a premium, non-animal, and non-plastic leather alternative a compelling option for replacing animal-based leather. This partnership also brings GM one step closer to it’s goal of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.
“Our strategic investment in MycoWorks aims to advance the development of sustainable automotive materials,” said Wade Sheffer, managing director of GM Ventures. “This collaboration will help facilitate R&D efforts and build more sustainable alternatives for our designers.”
Besides being animal-free, Fine Mycelium is also chrome-free and has an increased strength, even at thinner versions. This increases efficiency and reduces the car’s weight in the inside, but still guarantees that all the harshest performance, aesthetic, and environmental markers in automotive production are still met.
While cars with plant-based leather alternatives aren’t yet available on the market, it’s an exciting prospect for the coming years. We’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for when these options hit the public.