Smell that? That delightful bouquet of vinyl, plastic, glue, and leather that brings back nostalgic memories?
It’s that ‘new car smell’, which consciously or subconsciously happens to be absolutely critical to any purchasing experience.
People are pretty basic – if it smells good, and is able to elicit an emotional response, we’ll keep coming back for it – and car engineers know this.
That’s why Nissan hires special materials engineers called “certified smellers” who have to sniff test each car, and car part, to make sure it smells like the good stuff.
Yes, that role includes training and certification that involves carefully administered smell identification tests. So if you spot someone sniffing a steering wheel with too much concentration, it’s perhaps not some new-age fetish, but rather an actual job.
Tori Keerl, one of Nissan’s certified sniffers, gave away a few secrets to the smell of a new car, per Deseret News:
“Every time we launch a vehicle, we have to test the odor of it,” she said. Her team conducts sniff tests for every car part before it’s installed, to make sure all scents are pleasant.
After all the parts are put in place, members of her team “sit in the vehicle and we make sure that, as we’re sitting in the driver’s seat and as you’re sitting in the back seat, you’re smelling that good new car smell,” she said.
The consideration for the odour is deep, per CBS58:
Smells in the front seat can be vastly different from smells in the back seat, she said. In the front seat, there’s a far greater range of materials near the nose. Besides leather or fabric seats, there are the plastics on the dashboard and whatever the center storage console is made from. There are also all the bonding materials, threads and adhesives that hold these things together.
In the back seat, you’re much more surrounded by just seat materials. There are seats in front of you, behind you and under you. Then there’s the smell of the carpet material underfoot.
Sadly, the new car smell doesn’t last very long. The more the car gets used, the more the smell becomes diluted – deteriorating up to 20% each week.
That McDonald’s burger you chowed takes it a notch down, and so do your crummy shoes after a hike. Bid the scent a real goodbye if you’re one to nest and hoard.
The only way to keep the good smell is to keep the car clean, vacuuming regularly, cleaning the floor mats, shampooing the seats, and keeping the vents unblocked.
Otherwise, you’ll have to settle for a new car scented product that can bring back those memories and feelings of possibility and freedom.
If a car sniffer exists, so does a new car scented air freshener.
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