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Ford wants to bake its cars to remove new car smell in China

by Ronan Glon

Over 10 percent of buyers complained about it.

For many Americans, the archetypal new car smell is part of the buying experience. For Chinese motorists, it's a nuisance. Ford has consequently patented a technology that eliminates the new car smell in vehicles sold on the Chinese market.

Over 10 percent of buyers complained about the new car smell, according to a J.D. Power China initial quality study cited by the Detroit Free Press. And, because the Chinese new car market is the largest in the world, companies like Ford are taking notice.

"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 media explained.

Found by Australian website CarAdvice, Ford's patent explains how to create the new car smell, and how to get rid of it. It's the product of volatile organic compounds (VOC) sent into the air by materials like leather, plastic, vinyl, and the glue used to hold parts together. The smell is the strongest when the car sits in the sun, so Ford essentially wants to bake vehicles until they don't smell anymore.

The basic idea is to park the car in the sun, crack open the windows, and turn on the engine, the fan, and the heater. Air quality sensors will monitor the process. Oddly, the technology only works in semi-autonomous and autonomous cars.

Ford isn't currently planning on bringing this technology to production.

"This patent is the result of years of research and is just one idea we are considering for future use," Debbie Mielewski, the senior technical leader in materials sustainability at Ford, told the Detroit Free Press.

Until the smell-eliminating technology reaches the mainstream, Ford will continue to rely on a team of smell testers that sniff every part of the car -- from the steering wheel to the switches to the floor mats -- and report odors that Chinese buyers may find unpleasant.

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