Five sur­pris­ing jobs in mak­ing new cars

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

VE­HI­CLE man­u­fac­tur­ing in­volves sev­eral cu­ri­ous pro­fes­sions that re­quire a high de­gree of crafts­man­ship, cre­ativ­ity and pre­ci­sion.

The fol­low­ing five are a few ex­am­ples of these: • The first driver: two mil­lion kilo­me­tres per year. This is the dis­tance cov­ered by the team of ex­pert driv­ers to test all the cars that leave the Seat fac­tory in Mar­torell in a sin­gle year.

These pro­fes­sion­als closely study the per­for­mance of the ve­hi­cles as soon as they come off the as­sem­bly line, test­ing them at dif­fer­ent speeds on six dif­fer­ent types of pave­ment, in­clud­ing cob­ble­stones and uneven sur­faces to en­sure they do not make any un­pleas­ant noise. Dur­ing the process they also test that horns, lights and brakes func­tion cor­rectly. • The clay sculp­tor: These sculp­tors hand­craft clay into life-sized cars that even weigh the same as a real ve­hi­cle.

This re­quires 2 500 kg of clay and up to 10 000 hours of pa­tient scrap­ing to make a sin­gle clay model that will dis­play a car’s sil­hou­ette be­fore lock­ing in its design. • The car tai­lor: They hand sew the ve­hi­cle up­hol­stery pat­terns, com­ing up with the best com­bi­na­tion of colours and fab­rics and hides to suit the per­son­al­ity of each car. These ex­pert tai­lors need more than 30 me­tres of seams to fully up­hol­ster an en­tire car, and their cre­ations are crafted two years in ad­vance. • The seat tester: This pro­fes­sion con­sists in shap­ing the ideal seat. Testers and their teams also have to per­form up to 20 000 fold­ing op­er­a­tions for each dif­fer­ent type of seat.

The study is ex­haus­tive: they have to find the right foams, fab­rics, struc­ture or stitch­ing that will adapt to dif­fer­ent body types and ex­ter­nal con­di­tions. They also en­sure the cor­rect design of head­rests to pre­vent pos­si­ble neck in­juries. • Car som­me­liers: Their most im­por­tant work in­stru­ment is their nose to achieve the fa­mous “new car smell”. These chemists smell over 400 tests ev­ery year, ex­pos­ing cars to tem­per­a­tures of 60°C.

This pro­fes­sion also places some cu­ri­ous de­mands on them: they can­not smoke or wear per­fume so as not to al­ter the out­come of test re­sults.


The nose knows — car som­me­liers en­sure that cars smell new, and not of glue.

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