The New Car Smell Is Old News Now

You know that new-car smell, there are air fresheners and people always talk about it – it’s becoming much less popular, and some automakers are “baking” their cars.

By nowproducerdave on November 19, 2018
(Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

What are some of the great things about buying or even just riding in a new car? Sure, you might have comfortable seats, or a bluetooth radio. An awesome navigation unit that plays Blu-ray movies for the kids? Maybe the safety features? No, it’s the new car smell.

But the new car smell might just be old news. It seems that a lot of people shopping for new cars will actually avoid buying a car that has that new smell. It’s mostly happening in China; people want an odor-free driving experience. Ford is working on some new tech that would eliminate the smell, and it has a little to do with some self-driving abilities. We’ll get to that in a little bit.

In China, auto manufacturers are discovering that more and more people don’t want that new car smell. For many customers, they’ll actually pass up an otherwise good car because of the smell. They’ll even settle for something a little less comfortable or less powerful just because it doesn’t have that smell. Ford even employs 18 “smell testers,” who they call “Golden Noses.” The jobs they’re assigned is to smell cars. Literally, the carpet, seats, steering wheels, anything that produces a smell. If it’s too strong, it fails the test.

Now for the new tech Ford is working on. They’ve figured out that if they “bake” the cars, the smell can clear. So Ford engineers have been working on a new tool – one that clears the smell. They bake the car by parking it in the sun, which seems pretty low-tech. But, the “tool” they’re working on ties into the car’s electrical system. Once the car is parked, they open the windows slightly, and turn on the heater fan to full-power. Then, the tool takes over. It monitors the air quality inside the car, as well as a bunch of other measurements. When conditions are right, the car will actually drive itself to a good location, park in the sun, and try to “bake” itself to clear the smell. It’s a lot more technically involved, and is just an idea mostly, but there’s more information here.

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