Nissan Is Analyzing the New Car Smell

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One of the best things about buying a new car is that new car smell. It doesn’t matter which make or model you buy, the new car smell is universal.
This beloved scent has become so popular that carmakers like Nissan are taking extra steps to ensure customers get the best smelling cars.
Backseat view of woman driving a car on the highway at sunrise.
Nissan and other automakers are working to perfect the new car smell.

Why does the new car smell matter?

You can easily find air fresheners or sprays that mimic the new car smell. But why is it so loved and sought after? To find out, Car and Driver interviewed the owners of 12.29, a scent-based branding and marketing company in New York.
Dawn Goldworm, founder of 12.29, said “What’s really interesting about the smell of anything new … there’s often a sense of pride and accomplishment.” It’s not necessarily the smell itself that’s attractive. Owning a new car means you’ve been able to provide for yourself, and the smell reminds you of that accomplishment.
The new product smell isn’t unique to cars and is often associated with other high-value items like electronics or high-end appliances.

Nissan’s expert nose

Nissan took note of the powerful psychological effect of the new car smell and decided to hire their own professional nose (or “nez,” if you prefer the more proper French title). Peter Eastland’s official job title with Nissan is Materials Engineer, but you could call him a new car sommelier.
Eastland puts his master’s degree in Chemistry to use by smelling all the materials found in car cabins. It may sound like an easy gig, but there’s a science behind the madness. Temperature, time of day, and environmental exposure can all influence the new car smell. It’s Eastland’s job to ensure that Nissan car owners get the best new car smell that science has to offer.
“A key part of my role in assessing a material is to keep the customer at the center of our focus. With any change or new design, potential odors will need to be part of the wider evaluation on the effectiveness of that change,” Eastland said in an interview with Motor1.

Other automakers working with smell

Nissan isn’t the only company with a hired professional “nez.” Stellantis, formerly known as Fiat-Chrysler, has an entire panel of new car smell experts. Eric Mayne, a spokesperson for the company, said, “We think long and hard about scent,” as reported by Car and Driver.
One of the important things about pleasing aromas is subtlety. We’ve all walked by someone who had on just a bit too much perfume or cologne. Getting the right balance between pleasant and overwhelming tends to be one of the main focuses of these professional aroma chemists.
It’s not just automakers that care about the new car smell. J.D. Power evaluates new car smell as one of 200 factors involved in their Initial Quality Study rating.
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