1. New Car Smell: How a Smell Team Works Day & Night to get the Smell Right!

New Car Smell: How a Smell Team Works Day & Night to get the Smell Right!

17th February 2016

WOW! Your new Lexus has finally arrived. You sat inside and felt the power to rule the world on your luxurious four wheels. You savored the interior through your eyes, sniffed around and found that the new car smells really intoxicating.

But have you ever thought that how come a new car doesn't smell like a fish or dumpster, when it consists of so many different materials, adhesives and chemicals?

Well, it is because a highly trained team of "SNIFFERS" works on every part and component to set the right kind of smell for your cars.

Let's know some unknown facts about how auto companies create that "new-car-smell" and how efficiently they work behind achieving that "perfect smell" for your cars.

Companies with a "SMELL TEAM"

Do you know that almost all the big companies have well appointed "smell team" to evaluate smell and then reject or reformulate any unpleasant material?

This highly trained team of sniffers put their noses on the line to smell different odorous materials like plastics, foams, leather, fabric, carpet, etc. Lexus, Jaguar, Toyota, almost every company has a "smell team" with a very sensitive and unflawed nose.

Effects of Globalization of the Car Market on Smell Tests

Effects of Globalization of the Car Market on Smell Tests Source: lexus.com

Globalization of the car market makes this task inevitable as well as daunting. Different countries and different cultures have different liking and disliking.

For example, Americans are really fussy about 'fishy' smells and this powerful country being having a very clean and sanitized environment, it is easy for the Lexus smell team to pick any odor (even fishy smell).

On the other hand, Japanese have a strong appetite for fishy smells but an unforgivable nose for natural fibers.

One smell could be good for someone and can be problematic for others, depending upon the taste and liking of different people. Best example is LEATHER, which is a tricky one. The Americans and Europeans find leather smells very luxurious and it gives them a sense of richness in the car interiors, however, Indian drivers totally detest this smell and are more inclined towards different fabrics (now you know why many drivers deck up their cars with towels).

The Process to Test ODOR

The Process to Test ODOR Source: i.ytimg.com

The process to test the car odor is meticulous as well as quiet interesting. To test the car odor, all the car components are heated using big ovens and sniffed in big mason jars. Small chunks of all the car components are stuffed into the jars and then they are heated in the oven to three different temperatures:

  • 73F to create normal room temperature
  • 104F with some water to create humid environment
  • 176F to create the environment of dry heat.

Different temperature and environment tend to change the smell of the materials. A skillful team of sniffers rates the smells separately, approving good or neutral smell while flagging anything that smells bad.

However, some companies do follow different ways to do the smell test. Toyota, parent company of Lexus, follows the guidelines set by the Japanese Automotive Manufacturers Association, which caused the company to switch to some lower-emission products in some cases, such as a resin with 80 percent lower formaldehyde emissions. Gradually, companies are switching over to more natural and organic methods.

Cherry-Picked Smell Team

Choosing the right smell team is a critical job to perform! Lexus makes sure that its smell team consists of best of laboratory engineers with sensitive nose for different odors. There is no formal or rigorous training to make a good sniffer; however, the person has to keep couple of things in his/her mind before becoming a part of the team.

For instanceThe person is not allowed to smoke or shouldn't have cold or sinus or any kind of allergies; also that person is not allowed to wear strong perfumes or cologne (might interfere with other odors).

They NEVER Give Up…

They NEVER Give Up Source: lexusenthusiast.com

If any component fails the smell test, Lexus smell team rejects it and sends that component back to the manufacturer to get reformulated. There are rare occasions when after getting every smell right, a car, during its early production phase, still has some odor left in the interior.

In such cases, smell team is called upon and they sniff the interiors again to narrow down affected area. It doesn't happen all the time but when it does then the teams make sure that the component is replaced, reformulated and fitted back to get the things right.

Is This New Car Smell Good For Your HEALTH?

Now we know that this powerful smell of a brand new car, which actually feels good and gives us a sense of 'NEWNESS', is created with a lot of chemicals and other factors like glue, paint, carpeting, leather and vinyl sealant, gasoline, and other lubricating compounds. However, so many chemicals together become a hotheaded volcano.

In a research, conducted by Ecology Center, reveals that all these volatile chemicals are hazardous for us. When inhaled or ingested these chemicals can create havoc inside our body; that's why many biggies like Lexus and Ford have taken a path of natural and organic products like water-based glues and usage of soy instead of petroleum-based materials.

Hopefully, in near future all the auto companies will take the similar safe path.

Nonetheless, we would definitely like to salute the sniffers, who work round the clock and never let you drive a new car with a bad smell. This interesting yet critical job needs to be recognized by all the car lovers.

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