PETA Launches Campaign To Steer Mercedes Away From Leather Seats

US Film Star Wants Company to Save Up to Seven Cows’ Lives Per Car

For Immediate Release:
23 January 2004

Poorva Joshipura 020 7357 9229, ext 229

Stuttgart – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have launched an international campaign aimed at getting DaimlerChrysler, makers of Mercedes- Benz luxury automobiles, to offer non-leather upholstery as an option in all models of the company’s cars. The campaign follows PETA’s successful efforts to get DaimlerChrysler-India to make leather-free interiors available in Mercedes cars manufactured and sold in that country. Actor James Cromwell, who starred in such blockbuster films as The Sum of All Fears, The Green Mile and Babe, has sent a letter on behalf of PETA to DaimlerChrysler management board chair Jürgen Schrempp, asking for a face-to-face meeting to make the case for non-leather options.

PETA point out that leather is offensive to millions of people, such as environmentalists, the growing number of vegetarians and vegans worldwide and Hindus and Jains, who object to leather for religious reasons. PETA first got the automaker’s attention when a well-to-do Texas shopping-centre owner tore the leather out of her brand-new Mercedes, replaced it with a luxurious synthetic and had PETA’s ‘cow’ mascot deliver the discarded skins to DaimlerChrysler headquarters.

It takes the skins of anywhere from four to 15 cows to produce the leather interior of just one car. DaimlerChrysler’s Maybach requires seven. While some automakers try to rationalise their use of leather by claiming that it’s simply a ‘by-product’ of the meat industry, the US Department of Agriculture more accurately states that that leather is ‘the most valuable coproduct of the meatpacking industry.’ Production-line speed-ups and inadequate stunning measures at abattoirs in the US and EU mean that cows killed for their skins and flesh are often still conscious when their hooves are cut off and their throats are slit.

‘DaimlerChrysler can sell more cars if they simply offer the option of synthetic or fabric interiors in all their models’, says PETA campaigner Poorva Joshipura. ‘Today, some of the world’s wealthiest and most particular consumers think that dead skin is anti-luxurious and wish to choose a top-of-the-line car without the smell, sweatiness and animal-suffering concerns that come with a leather interior.’

James Cromwell’s letter to Jürgen Schrempp is available upon request. For more information, please visit PETA’s Web site