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The push is on at VW for “leatherette.” Why? I’m guessing $. The pitch is comfort, wear, and animal welfare. Tom and Ray speak of out-gassing of volatile chems on all the vinyl. So, what’s the real story? Husband and I purchased VW with leather today.

Mercedes made “MB-Tex” – their version of leatherette. My 1972 280 SEL 4.5 seats still looked brand new 35 years later. The stuff never wears out – leather cracks and ages much faster.


Animals are on welfare?

Seriously, the “leatherette” is just to provide a more classy feel (like leather) without the high cost of real leather. Various versions have been around forever.

The truth is that no matter what you cover the seats in your interior surrounds you with plastica and bonding compounds all of which outgas. You end up with a blend of just about every volatile known to mankind. T&R obsess about a lot of arcane things. That’s showbiz.

Enjoy your VW. And don’t obsess over the seat covering.

If you’ve ever seen the toxic chemicals and such used in the leather tanning process, leatherette doen’t seem bad at all.

I’ve had a bias against “leatherette,” AKA vinyl for a long time, because the vinyl seats in my 1966 Dodge Coronet didn’t last very long. I chanced it, though, and got a Mini with “leatherette” seats. I’m assuming a lot of progress has been made in keeping the stuff flexible over time, rather than getting stiff and cracking like it did in the 60’s.

I still don’t understand why makers of expensive cars like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Cadillac, along with VW, are so averse to using cloth. Today’s cloth looks decent, lasts as long as the rest of a car, and “breathes” better than any leather or vinyl.