Audi Has A Team Of People Who Smell Cars

Interior / 15 Comments

What a way to make a living.

Audi has many strict quality assurance measures to ensure the customer's experience lives up to high expectations. The German automaker goes to such great lengths that it even employs a team of professional scientists who smell car interiors all day to make sure they are free from foul odors. What a way to make a living. This has been happening for over 30 years.

Since 1985, Audi's odor team, better known as the "nose team" has been working diligently to make the interior smell as pleasant as possible. But since it's impossible for Audi to make the interior completely odorless, the automaker instead aims to make the material and chemicals used during manufacturing to be as neutral as possible to create that fresh new car smell.

Leather that smells like fish oil or floor mats smelling of onions are unacceptable to Audi. Around 500 different components are analyzed by Audi's nose team. Since the early 2000s, Audi chemist Heiko Lussmann-Geiger has lead the five-person nose team at Audi's Bavarian Quality Center since the early 2000s.

How a car interior smells may sound trivial, but Lussmann-Geiger explains how vehicle comfort factors should be seen as a "pyramid" and that bad smells can affect a customer's perception of other comfort features. "At the tip of this hierarchy pyramid is the well-being of the customer, right at the base is the smell. If the customer is now irritated by this odor from below, he will no longer correctly perceive all the other positive comfort properties of the vehicle. He is too irritated by the stress brought about by the odor."

Each smell is graded on a scale from one ("odorless") to six ("unbearable"). Only materials such as glass, ceramics, and metals are rated odorless since they are classed as core components, but other materials need to be rated below four ("irritating") to pass Audi's strict smell test. Audi even tests production cars to make sure they still smell factory fresh after they leave the showroom.

"It can be the case that a supplier after a certain time employs a slightly different material composition or uses another manufacturing process, and suddenly we have odors in the vehicle that are undesirable," explained Lussmann-Geiger. So there you have it. Now you know why your Audi A8 interior smells so good.

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