Smell matters. No, it may not be the first thing you think about when you try out the pilot’s seat in that new car on the showroom floor, but odor can make or break a first impression.
To that end, the video above shows how Ford Motor Company uses lab testing to ensure that the materials used in its passenger vehicles don’t overwhelm the nostrils of occupants. By replicating the sort of heat and humidity that a vehicle interior might undergo in a normal day, Ford Motor Company’s professional “sniffers” (a.k.a. “odor assessors”) can take a few whiffs of various material samples to make sure that they don’t smell overly repugnant.
To learn more, Slate spoke with a Body Interior Materials Engineering Supervisor from Ford Motor Co. named Linda Schmalz. She explained that the odor assessor’s job isn’t finding good smells to put into the car, but identifying bad smells that should be taken out. For instance, “Leather shouldn’t smell like rotten meat, or a dirty gym bag, or a wet dog.” Once a troublesome (read: “stinky”) material has been found, it can be replaced or reformulated to be less offensive to the nose.
It all makes scents.