• Jan 23, 2009


Apparently there's a sizable group of people out there allergic to chrome. This is different than a normal enthusiast's aversion to chrome trim, mind you. While we might gag at the overuse of the bling, someone with a chromium allergy can actually develop an itchy rash if they touch it. While most automakers reserve chrome for the exterior and some interior accents, a little known fact is that chromium is often used in the leather-tanning process. That means that most leather interiors are off limits to those unfortunate souls who have this problem. Until now. Volvo has just announced that all of its leather interiors will forthwith feature only chrome-free leather. Instead, all of the leather used in Volvo car interiors will be tanned using either natural or synthetic tanning materials. The switch is said to benefit both man and nature because it also reduces the environmental impact of the tanning process.

[Source: Volvo]


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  • 27 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      That's a very responsible thing to do. I wish though that lux automakers would offer an optional interior of high grade fabric instead of only leather.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Well, I think Volvo's "standard" T-Tec fabric is pretty nice. I haven't had much occasion to sit in luxury cars in my life (some day!), so I don't know what most of them have. But I've never really understood why people want leather anyways. Hot in the summer, and really freaking cold in the winter.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Tell the Acura designers about this. They have been using way too much chrome hideously.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm not a big fan of leather (i prefer a nice grippy fabric) but with a dog and a coffee-addicted tradesperson in the family, leather (or high-quality leatherette) is simply far more practical than a cloth interior.

      Kudos to Volvo (and Ford in the bigger picture) for trying to move to materials that are a little more friendly. They've started using soy-based foam instead of latex-based foam - lots of people have latex allergies as well - and have also been experimenting with natural-fibre carpets.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Honda has been using chrome-free leather processes for a while...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Oh my god,
      someone tell Mercury and Lincoln about chrome-free trims, they insist on chroming random pieces of interior (angular, multisurface piece... to make sure you know they're plastic). The gauge rings on my parents' Mountaineer and shifter surround on their MKX just scream cheap! Especially on a $40K crossover, you should really think twice about the materials. I mean the shifter surround on my audi is a chromed aluminium piece and that car sold at the same price point.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I wish the US offered vehicles for the premium class offered good quality cloth seats as they do in Europe.





        • 5 Years Ago
        I can't agree with this enough. I hate, hate, *hate* leather seats. Cloth is much easier to keep clean and in decent shape.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Probably, besides the point, but I do love the interiors on the new S80s. Simple but yet so elegant at the same time.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree, Volvo builds now the best interiors for below $50k cars, on par with Audi and much better than BMW or Mercedes. For some reason this goes unnoticed.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is a good thing. I have read that the leather making process is horrible on the environment because of all the chemicals. (which makes me wonder why you would get leather in a Prius)
        • 5 Years Ago
        @NotYou:

        To extract the ore from the rock, some mines use a technique known as acid leaching where the rocks are bathed in acid and the ore is removed. Certain forms of acid can create cyanide gas during the process. The other problem is the left over acid sludge is sometimes left to sit in pools where it can seep into the water table.

        But not all mines use this technique, others crush the rock into small chunks, heat them until the ore is liquified and filter out the liquid ore. This process isn't as efficient as leaching, and it does have it's own drawbacks.

        I do agree that there is too much "blah-blah is bad for the envrionment", just as there is too much "blah-blah is bad for your health". I'm all for conservation and increasing engery effiency, but not at the cost of my quality of life.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ m

        You're say your cheap yet you must know that it will take you year to make up the added cost of the hybrid system VS just buying a 4-banger? Seems counterintuitive to me.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Apparently the process by which nickel is mined (for NiMH batteries) is pretty harmful to the environment too. The current batch of hybrids achieve notable increases in fuel efficiency but not without a hidden cost.

        I want bling chrome leather seats!
        • 5 Years Ago
        My family bought a parallel gasoline/electric drive hybrid. Not the Prius, but it's big brother the Camry. We got it with leather. Why did we get our hybrid with leather? Because we like leather. What processing that leather or the batteries did to the environment doesn't mean much to me. Nobody seems to understand that we didn't choose it for its impact on the environment. We chose it for its low operating costs. We're not hippies; We're just cheap.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The Other Bob: "I have read that the leather making process is horrible on the environment because of all the chemicals."

        Could you quantify that with some sourced facts? I mean, I can read "somewhere" that "humans are horrible for the environment, because of all their effects". I don't know that makes eliminating them "A Good Thing" (ex. See National Wildlife Federation: Less People=Better Planet, FTW!).

        My bigger point, in case you missed it, is that this sort of eco/enviro-diatribe is starting to become mantra: "blah-blah is bad for the environment", but no facts to back it up. Indeed "bad for the environment" is hardly a quantifiable result in and of itself - what one person says is "bad" others may disagree (see Kyoto).

        Note that I do I respect your desire to follow the enviro-lemmings (enjoy the fall!), but I would personally rather stay here on terrafirma.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think this is great news aesthetically, too. IMHO, shiny bits don't look attractive to me -- interior OR exterior. Back in the '80s, the most appealing cars had the *least* amount of chrome...

      http://img110.imageshack.us/img110/8751/lrgarticle10628img0vu4.jpg


      • 5 Years Ago
      Audi stopped using chromium in tanning in 1990.

      'Chromium salts, which were the most important tanning agent in the leather industry for around 100 years, have been banned from its production since 1990.'

      http://www.audiworld.com/news/00/2000archive.html
        • 5 Years Ago
        Oh, and none (or at least virtually none) of the "chrome" in car interiors is chrome. You can't "chrome" anything but metal. Since interiors are all plastic-based (to reduce injuries), they use evaporatively deposited metal on plastic. And this metal deposited is rarely chrome, it's usually aluminum or nickel.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think we all know where Ford will be putting all that formerly-Volvo chrome...can you say "Taurus exterior"?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Autoblog: "Instead [of chromium], all of the leather used in Volvo car interiors will be tanned using either natural or synthetic tanning materials."

      I'm curious, if chromium is neither natural nor synthetic, what is it?
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