Published on April 9th, 2016 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


The “New Car Smell” – A Feel-Good Factor That’s Not There By Chance

We all love the ‘new car smell’, don’t we? But apparently, some car companies go to great lengths to ensure that that particular satisfaction is the best that a customer can get. At Spanish car manufacturer SEAT, it is the duty of a small group of people which Maria Jose Lopez is part of and who holds a profession that is so specific, we did not know exist until now.

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She is a chemical scientist and her team are specialists in sniffing out neutral scents that characterise a recently purchased new car smell.

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“We individually analyse all the non-metal parts of a car and assess whether the smells they release are suitable and pleasant” explains María José about the work methodology they observe. “One of the tests we perform is to heat up the car to over 60 degrees and then the entire team gets in the car to evaluate how it smells”. She assures it is easier to perform a smell test when the car is heated up.

As they constantly strive to ensure the most positive reaction when entering a car, “if one of the parts doesn’t smell quite right we activate a protocol to either replace it or find a possible solution”. Moreover, María José mentions that of all the materials used in a car, one of them is unique: “A car should have a good leather smell because that’s what gives it greater quality”, she points out.

This team of experts has an acute sense of smell, but they also know that there are other requirements for their job, such as not smoking or wearing perfumes or scents, as this would affect the outcome of the test results.

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This kind of organoleptic testing began in the mid-90s and has since become increasingly more widespread. SEAT currently conducts over 400 tests every year to ensure that all vehicles leave the factory with a characteristic “new car smell”.

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