In China it’s a battle between new smell and no smell
WHILE Western drivers like the “new car” smell fresh off the production line, Chinese would rather their cars didn’t smell of anything – a cultural divide that’s testing car makers seeking an edge to revive sales in the world’s biggest car market.
At Ford, for example, 18 smell assessors – dubbed “golden noses” – at its research plant outside the eastern city of Nanjing test the smell of each material that goes inside a Ford car to be sold in China and around Asia.
The China smell test illustrates the lengths car makers go to to attract buyers in markets where consumer attitudes vary widely. “In North America, people want a new car smell and will even buy a ‘new car’ spray to make older cars feel new and fresh. In China it’s the opposite,” says Andy Pan, supervisor for material engineering at the Ford facility.
The smell of a new car in China can have an outsized effect. A JD Power report last year showed that unpleasant car smells were the top concern for Chinese drivers, ahead of engine issues, road noise or fuel consumption.
The smell assessors at Ford, whose China sales are down 7 percent this year, carry out 300 tests a year, a third more than their counterparts in Europe.
They rate the odour of all materials used in a car from “not perceptible” to “extremely disturbing”. – Reuters