This Carmaker Is Researching Technology To Eliminate The “New Car Smell”


When we buy a new car and drive it out of the dealership for the first time, you might take a deep breath and enjoy the smell of your brand new car. The fresh upholstery and carpeting, the rich leather seats. This new car aroma might remind you of things like happiness, contentment and having enough money to buy a new car. However, if you’re living in China, we might not be describing you at all.


Apparently, car buyers in China don’t really like the “new car smell”, so Ford is looking into technology which can help to get rid of the smell. According to research done by JD Power, more than 10 percent of Chinese drivers complained about the odor of their brand-new cars, the most frequent complaint of all.

Image from:  The Verge

Image from: The Verge

“Unpleasant interior smell/odor remains the top industry problem in that market,” said Brent Gruber, senior director, global automotive, at J.D. Power. “To put that in context, it is nearly double the problem rate of the second most prevalent problem, excessive fuel consumption.”

So Ford is setting out to create technology that will eradicate that new-car smell, hoping to eliminate this complaint among Chinese customers. The carmaker has filed a patent application for an odor-removal process that eliminates the new car smell after a vehicle has been purchased. This is the latest attempt in an industry effort to accommodate consumer tastes in different parts of the world; most notably the largest car market in the world.


“We know Chinese customers dislike that scent. This patent is the result of years of research and is just one idea we are considering for future use,” said Debbie Mielewski, senior technical leader in materials sustainability at Ford.

Image from:  Quartz

Image from: Quartz

Ford made headlines in 2017 when it was disclosed that the carmaker had assembled a team of 18 people with “highly sensitive noses” to help identify the offending smell. Yes, you heard that right. They even have a name; “The Golden Noses”. The team sniffs every component of a car’s interior, and rejects those that they deem unfavorable to the Chinese.


Now, Ford has gone to the next step, applying to patent a new technology that will autonomously air out the offending aromas, most of which come from organic compounds emitted by upholstery, plastics, or other materials involved in constructing a car's interior.

Image from:  Car and Driver

Image from: Car and Driver

Ford’s patented method involves parking the car in sunlight, winding down the windows and running the heater fan to help blow off the smell; all done autonomously by the car itself. This technology is still experimental though, and the company has no plans to incorporate this technology into production vehicles at this time.

This may also be due to the fact that in an increasingly globalised world, carmakers are always looking for new ways to earn Chinese customer loyalty in the automotive market, said Brian Moody, executive editor at Autotrader. And China is the largest car market in the world, so carmakers take notice.


So next time when you’re at a dealership waiting to soak in the smell of your brand new car, remember that in China, people find it offensive. What do you think about this technology? Leave a comment below!