The so-called “new car smell” is a key characteristic of any newly purchased vehicle and Nissan’s engineers strive to ensure that it is just right, recognising that it’s an important ingredient in the pride of new car ownership for buyers.
Peter Karl Eastland is odour evaluation lead engineer, based at Nissan Technical Centre Europe in Bedford, UK.
The most recent example of his work can be found on the all-new Qashqai, which went on sale in Europe in July. Particular attention has been paid to elevate the all-new Qashqai’s on-board ambience, from the fit and finish, materials including new premium leather, to the user-friendly technology.
But the attention to detail in fine-tuning every aspect is reflected in the important role of ensuring the life-on-board experience isn’t compromised by any unappealing odours.
With a Master’s degree in Chemistry with Forensic Science from Leicester University, Eastland and other engineers and technicians are responsible for ensuring the smell delivers a positive response among Nissan’s new car customers.
“We aim to provide the best sensory experience for the customer. While tastes and preferences evolve over time, smell remains a constant. Therefore, it is part of our job to make sure that any material we use is always going to be perfect in terms of scent and that all of the senses are harmonised,” said Eastland.
The evaluation process blends objective and subjective assessment, culminating in an ideal “new-car smell”.
“That new car smell isn’t just a consequence of the manufacturing process; months of work are devoted throughout the development phase of the new vehicle to carefully analyse the use of materials and chemicals, such as seat fabric, adhesives, and polymers, to ensure that they don’t combine to generate an unpleasant odour for the car’s occupants,” said David Moss, Senior Vice President, Region Research & Development.
Liaising with the Nissan engineering and manufacturing teams, Eastland and his team test all the materials, such as the soft material used for the new 3-D diamond quilted seats on the all-new Qashqai, in a variety of conditions to replicate real-world environments, keeping in mind that their chemical properties – such as odour – can change according to temperature, for example.
Where a potential new material or chemical is found to negatively affect the overall cabin ambience, Peter and his colleagues will identify alternatives to ensure the new-car smell is preserved.
Eastland also liaises with fellow experts at Nissan’s other technical centres in Atsugi, Japan and Farmington Hills, United States as there exists a global Nissan standard for scent evaluation.