Carmakers look for new techniques to get rid of that “new car smell”

Global Business

The Detroit Auto Show is into its second week. While some looking for a new car will compare features like performance, safety and price, there is one other factor that is slightly less tangible. 

CGTN’s Dan Williams reports.

That is the so-called ‘new car smell’.  While some customers love the smell, others reportedly are put off by it.  So much so, that Ford now has a dedicated team in Nanjing, China who identify materials that give off unpleasant odors.   

Once located, the company’s material engineers then work with suppliers to improve those parts or seek alternatives. 

“There is nothing more important than how customers feel in their vehicles. So we have done a lot to address it cause we take that really seriously. First of all, we have the air pump which blasts fresh air into the interior when the car is unlocked. We have a whole group of smell-sensitive engineers, our material people in Nanjing. And they smell our suppliers parts to make sure that those parts fit into the hard cold chemistry of the human body which is different around the world,” Jim Farley, executive vice president at Ford said. 

Ford has now reportedly filed a patent application for the process that purports to remove the smell.  The process underlines the challenge for large automakers in appealing to different markets and tastes.   In the U.S. for example, there are a range of scented products that aim to extend the new car smell experience. 

For example, a car owner we spoke to at the show said, “I do like it as it reminds me of getting a new car. And then when it goes away I guess it tells me, oh I have had this car for a while.”

Whether the issue of a ‘new car smell’ actually has an impact on sales remains to be seen. For most, it would appear that other elements such as vehicle performance, car safety and price remain the key areas of focus.  But for some, it might just swing that all important decision process.