Treasury Today Country Profiles in association with Citi

‘Golden noses’ found in Ford’s factories

Green leaf attached to car air vent to make the car smell nice

Ford employ specialist ‘smellers’ to revitalise car sales.

To boost car sales in China, Ford has employed a team of specialist smell assessors tasked with sniffing out unwanted odour in its new cars.

Based in Ford’s research plant outside the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing, the 18-strong team will sniff all the materials used in Ford cars sold in China and Asia.

The smell assessors will rate each item used in the Ford factory from “not perceptible” to “extremely disturbing”. Those items on the more offensive end of the scale will be sent back to the suppliers.

The aim is to eliminate any odour in its new cars. This includes the combination of fresh plastic, adhesives and sealers, which creates the enchanting scent commonly referred to as the ‘new car smell’ – a smell much desired by new car owners in the west.

“In North America, people want a new car smell and will even buy a ‘new car’ spray to make older cars feel new and fresh. In China it’s the opposite,” says Andy Pan, a Ford supervisor at the facility.

Given the importance Ford is placing on producing an odourless car in China, it is no surprise to hear that it is not easy to become a smell assessor. Indeed, according to smell assessor Amy Han, members of the team cannot smoke or drink. They must also avoid spicy food, nail polish, perfume and even leather clothes.

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