Martorell, 07/04/2016. – We use our sense of smell on a daily basis, even when creating a car. For María José López, her nose is an important tool in the work she does for SEAT. The chemical scientist and her team are specialists in sniffing out neutral scents that make up that special ‘new car smell’. It’s a virtually unknown profession.

“We individually analyse all the non-metal parts of a car and assess whether the smells released are suitable and pleasant”
she explains. “One of the tests we perform is to heat up the car to over 60 degrees and then the entire team gets in the car to evaluate how it smells”. Apparently, it’s easier to perform a smell test when the car is nice and warm.

The team constantly strive to ensure the most positive reaction when entering a car, “if one of the parts doesn’t smell quite right we activate a protocol to either replace it or find a possible solution”.

Each team member has to have an acute sense of smell. But their job also has other requirements, like being a non-smoker and not wearing perfume – as it would affect the test results.

This kind of organoleptic testing began in the mid 90s and has since become increasingly more important. SEAT currently conducts over 400 tests every year to ensure that all vehicles leave the factory with a characteristic “new car smell”.