Ford Motor Co. has filed a patent application for an odour-removal process that removes the new car smell after a vehicle has been bought.
This is the most recent attempt in an industry effort to accommodate consumer tastes in different parts of the world: Consumers in China say they hate the new car smell.
Brent Gruber, senior director, global automotive, at J.D. Power said “Unpleasant interior smell/odour remains the top industry problem in that market,” “To put that in context, it is nearly double the problem rate of the second most prevalent problem, excessive fuel consumption.”
According to the 2018 J.D. Power China Initial Quality Study, Consumer comment from Chinese buyers in recent years has been constant. More than 10 percent of drivers complained about the issue.
Americans comments are different
Brian Moody, executive editor at Autotrader said “When I go online, I can find 30 different products that will give my car that new car smell,” said “And now they’ve come up with something to limit it?”
But China since is the largest car market in the world, so carmakers take notice.
Considering Ford headlines in July 2017, Quartz media said “counting on a team of recruits to its Chinese research labs … 18 smell testers, or so-called ‘Golden Noses,’ charged with making sure new cars don’t smell bad, “That’s because Chinese car buyers are particularly sensitive to the smell of their new cars. They place unpleasant smells ahead of engine performance or safety as their top reason for not buying a new car.”
Quartz noted, Smell testers assess the odour of every item in the car, from floor carpets to the steering wheel, rejecting any that may offend a Chinese buyer,
While the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office hasn’t issued a ruling on the “vehicle odour remediation” patent application, and Ford hasn’t committed to moving forward with the project, the paperwork explains what creates the odour so many Americans like:
That new car smell is caused by volatile organic compounds given off by leather, plastic and vinyl.
Also, Chemicals used to attach and seal car parts may also contribute to the odour.
Odours is noticed when compounds are released, which happens when a car sits in high temperatures. Ford scientists describe baking the car until the odour disappears, which happens after compounds are released.
The process described in the patent involves parking the car in the sun, opening the windows slightly, and optionally turning the engine, heater and fan on. The system includes special software and various air quality sensors and works only when fitted to a driverless or semi-autonomous vehicle.
A lot of technology is involved in the patent application. The car would determine whether conditions are right to expel compounds, and the car would drive itself to a place in the sun and bake away the offensive odour.
The company declined to discuss specifics of the technology.
Debbie Mielewski said, senior technical leader “While ‘new car smell’ is ingrained in American culture, we know Chinese customers dislike that scent. This patent is the result of years of research and is just one idea we are considering for future use,” in materials sustainability at Ford.
Ford spokesman Karl Henkel said the company had no exact production plans at this time, said
But globalization means recognising consumer needs worldwide. And Chinese consumers are among the most-savvy when it comes to nuance and detail.
At every turn, carmakers are looking for ways to acquire Chinese customer loyalty in a new and valuable market, he stated.
People fail to fully grip the uncommon challenges that surrounds the auto industry, said Maeva Ribas, manager of design analysis at The Carlab, an automotive product planning consulting group situated in Southern California.
Something like car interior colour is hard to standardize because the light is diverse in different parts of the world and the way people filter colour, she said.
“We do a bunch of research with a Japanese client. Take a beige interior, for example” Ribas said, a native of Monaco, France. “It just looks different when you see it in Japan versus here in the states. Beige works well there. In California, it looks different. In France, it looks different, too.”
She observed the current use of symphony music by the new Lincoln Aviator to substitute beeps and buzzes. “We know that sound is processed differently by different cultures, as well. So, smell would make sense. The insights we get from doing research on those kinds of things are just insane, in a very good way.”
Exclusive rights keep design options open for companies as they develop new products.
Companies often attain exclusive rights they may let expire at a later date if the technology is not desirable.
Source: USA TODAY