- Title: Ford sniffs out Chinese buyers turning up their noses at new car smell
- Date: 20th July 2017
- Summary: RESEARCHER LOOKING AT SCREEN CHANGSHU, JIANGSU PROVINCE, CHINA (JULY 12, 2017) (REUTERS) LEATHER FACTORY MACHINES IN LEATHER FACTORY WORKING MATERIAL WOMAN STANDING AT MACHINE DIRECTOR OF TECHNOLOGY AND PROGRAM MANAGEMENT, CGT (CANADIAN GENERAL-TOWER LIMITED) CHARLIE HE IN SHOWROOM HE'S HANDS ON LEATHER SEAT (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) DIRECTOR OF TECHNOLOGY AND PROGRAM MANAGEMENT, CGT, CHARLIE HE, SAYING: "Consumers in Europe and America care more about the performance of vehicles, like engine performance, safety performance and power. But Chinese consumers pay less attention to vehicles' functions, and have higher standards on subjective senses, like touch and smell." SHANGHAI, CHINA (JULY 13, 2017) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF A FORD DEALERSHIP STORE SIGN READING: "FORD' CONSUMERS INSIDE FORD DEALERSHIP STORE 30-YEAR-OLD CONSUMER, ZHAO YONG, GETTING INTO A FORD VEHICLE REAR MIRROR REFLECTING ZHAO'S FACE VARIOUS OF ZHAO IN CAR (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) 30-YEAR-OLD CONSUMER, ZHAO YONG, SAYING: "I don't like the smell (in new vehicles). After all, I think smell has a bad effect on the human body and it's sensitive. If the smell is serious, it will affect people's health. So personally, I think it's better not to have a smell (in new vehicles)." VARIOUS OF 29-YEAR-OLD CONSUMER, WU HUABING, IN FORD NEW VEHICLE WU'S HANDS ON STEERING WHEEL AND MAN TOUCHING LEATHER IN VEHICLE WU GETTING OUT OF VEHICLE (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) 29-YEAR-OLD CONSUMER, WU HUABING, SAYING: "This (smell) technology is important when I'm choosing a vehicle. Not having a smell when you buy a new car, it's like when you buy a new house, after renovation, there's a smell, it's not comfortable to live there. If this smell technology is integrated into this car, once you sit inside, you feel comfortable, there's no gas smell any other particular smell, and so this car will certainly be my first choice." FORD VEHICLES OUT OF DEALERSHIP STORE FORD LOGO ON CAR FRONT SHANGHAI, CHINA (JULY 12, 2017) (REUTERS) VEHICLES ON ROAD FORD VEHICLE TURNING ON ROAD VARIOUS OF CARS DRIVING PAST
- Embargoed: 3rd August 2017 03:23
- Keywords: Chinese new car smell dislike Ford experiments
- Location: SHANGHAI, NANJING CITY AND CHANGSHU CITY, JIANGSU PROVINCE, CHINA
- City: SHANGHAI, NANJING CITY AND CHANGSHU CITY, JIANGSU PROVINCE, CHINA
- Country: China
- Topics: Human Interest / Brights / Odd News,Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA0036QITVTL
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: In a laboratory in western China packed with glass vials and humming machines, Ford Motor Co is using a new tool to help lure in Chinese buyers amid slowing industry growth and fierce competition: the sense of smell.
Nestled deep within the carmaker's research and development plant outside Nanjing, a team of assessors - informally called the "golden noses" - test the smell of each material that goes inside a Ford car to be sold in China and around Asia.
The smell test isn't unique, but the aim here is rather different to the rest of the world. While U.S. and European drivers enjoy, and even relish, the "new car" smell, consumers in the world's largest auto market can't stand it.
The smell of a new car in China can have a big impact. A 2016 report from J.D. Power showed that unpleasant car smells were the top concern for the country's drivers, ahead of engine issues, road noise or how much fuel the car used.
In response, Ford has beefed up its team in China. It has 18 smell assessors who carry out 300 tests a year, a third more than counterparts in Europe. The tests involve checking the odour of every material that goes inside the car and giving it a rating from "not perceptible" to "extremely disturbing".
Pungent materials - from floor carpets to seat covers or steering wheels - are noted down with descriptions including "burnt tire", "bad meat", "moth balls" or "dirty socks". Those that don't pass muster can be sent back to the supplier.
Seats for Ford cars in China are also stored in perforated cloth bags to keep them ventilated before being installed, as opposed to plastic wrapping in the U.S. market where consumers are less concerned about chemical smells.
Ford's approach is an important marketing edge for carmakers in China at a time when growth in the market is stalling, consumers are tightening belts and looking at the little details to decide which brand to buy.
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