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Electric Cars Aren't Enough. Tesla Is Now Going Vegan

Tesla, the all-electric-car company, has just unveiled an SUV model that's not only environmentally friendly — it's also vegan.

The Tesla Model X, with its double-hinged falcon wing doors, looks like something from the future — and it just might be. The world's first all-electric four-by-four SUV can hit 60mph in 3.2 seconds, a top speed of 155 mph and drive 250 miles per change. And now you can get the seven-seater with faux-leather seats.

When you think of luxury cars, you often think leather seats and that "new car smell" but what if you have plenty of money to spend, but don't want it lined with animal skin? It's a problem that plagues vegans.

For decades, leather-free options in the car industry have been limited at best. Generally speaking, buyers looking to avoid the use of animal products in their cars would have to settle for basic models with cloth seats and plastic steering wheels, but as they add options like better engines, heated seats or upgraded speakers, they're often forced to choose leather seats.

PETA, a shareholder of Tesla Motors, has succeeded in urging the electric car company to launch a fully vegan interior option for the Model X electric SUV. Vegan customers now have a high-end interior option for the Model X. (Photo : Tesla Motors)

But now, Tesla's "Ultra White" interior option, currently only offered in the new Model X SUV, comes available with a fully vegan interior — including synthetic leather seats, steering wheel and gear shift — giving that streamlined luxury look of leather.

The company reportedly created the new interior option, in part, after receiving criticism from potential customers who felt the company's eco-friendly stance on limiting emissions made no sense when the cars included animal products.

Livestock around the world account for about 14.5 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. Critics argued that Tesla's continued use of leather would be perpetuating the need for more livestock, which would release more gas.

Many people might not know that animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, is a shareholder of Tesla Motors. At the company's annual meeting in June last year, PETA urged Tesla to offer vegan leather for the interiors of its vehicles, with CEO Elon Musk stating that he would "absolutely" consider it.

"By offering a 100 percent leather-free car, Tesla is pushing its eco-friendly business even further into the future," PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said in a statement. "PETA can now point to Tesla as a source for top-quality vehicles whose cruelty-free seats are as kind to the environment as its engines are."

Tesla is taking reservations for the Model X with a $5,000 deposit. The estimated base price is $80,000. Delivery is set to begin at the end of 2016.