- Title: Ford sniffs out Chinese buyers turning up their noses at new car smell
- Date: 20th July 2017
- Summary: NANJING, JIANGSU PROVINCE, CHINA (JULY 12, 2017) (REUTERS) SUPERVISOR FOR MATERIAL ENGINEERING OF FORD MOTOR RESEARCH & ENGINEERING (NANJING) CO., LTD, ANDY PAN, SMELLING SAMPLE IN MATERIALS LAB PAN SMELLING SAMPLE AND PUTTING THE LID BACK ON PAN TAKING RESEARCH NOTES RESEARCH NOTES PAN OPENING THE CAP AND SMELLING MATERIAL IN BOTTLE (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) SUPERVISOR FOR MATERIAL ENGINEERING OF FORD MOTOR RESEARCH & ENGINEERING (NANJING) CO., LTD, ANDY PAN, SAYING: "Our main target in China's market is to reduce the smell in new vehicles as much as possible, as, for sure, new vehicles will smell of something. So our goal is to reduce the new car smell." RESEARCHER PREPARING MATERIAL FOR TEST RESEARCHER PUTTING MATERIAL INTO BOTTLE MATERIAL IN BOTTLE
- 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: LVA0016QITVTL
- 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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