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June 10 2015, 07.05am GMT


Elon Musk, the Chief Executive of Tesla Motors Inc., seems to have the natural flair of turning a regular shareholder meeting into an event that investors are all talking about.

The 5th annual shareholder meeting took place at 2 p.m. Pacific on Tuesday and it was webcasted live from the Computer History Museum in Mountain View in California.

In the last meeting, Musk announced that he would stay at the helm for the next 4 to 5 years. At that time, he also promised to boost development in autonomous driving and it is evident that he is a man of his word since in October last year, Tesla added more driver-assistance features to its Model S sedan.

A main feature of the shareholder meeting yesterday, were Elizabeth Farrell Peters and her husband, Mark Peters who had asked other Tesla Model S owners and company stakeholders to provide their input regarding whether the electric carmaker should be offering leather as a luxury option.

The Peters are vegans and they feel that Tesla should follow other car companies such as Lexus, Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz and rather use faux leather interiors.

The reality is, leather has always been a big part of the luxury car business and to date, no company has considered eliminating this option. Shareholders voted on this matter and the results will be available within the next 4 business days.

The Peters offered 2 proposals to shareholders. The one proposal suggested that Tesla will stop offering leather by 2019 and the 2nd proposal was that the company should rather offer synthetic cruelty-free alternatives which generate almost 65% less carbon dioxide emissions.

On Tuesday, Elon Musk did hint that Tesla would be open to considering alternatives.

The Peters made it quite clear that while Tesla’s mission is to reduce the impact of human-caused global warming, using leather goes against this mission. According to a report released in 2006 from the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization, livestock farming makes up 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions while the leather tanning process is a highly toxic process.

Currently, Tesla offers leather dashboards and armrests for an additional $3,000 and this package also includes illuminated door handles, fog lights, power liftgate and interior accent lighting. Any customer who wants any of these features, has to also take the leather trim.

Adding to the pressure, Stephanie Downs, who is a member of corporate affairs at the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals nonprofit animal rights group, stood up during the meeting to back the proposals.

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