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Nissan’s ‘smellmasters’ perform odor checks on new cars

As anyone who’s bought a new car knows, the interior of the vehicle can give off a bit of a whiff at first. And if that odor is overpowering or unpleasant, you might quickly form a negative opinion about your new motor — even if it does drive like a dream.

Nissan, for one, is well aware of the importance of creating a car that not only looks great and drives well but also smells nice.

In fact, the Japanese automaker takes the matter so seriously that it employs people it describes as “smellmasters” — also called “certified smellers” — to thoroughly sniff the interior of every new vehicle to ensure that customers don’t kick up a stink when they climb inside and inhale for the very first time.

A video posted by the car giant this week shows smellmaster Ryunosuke Ino having a darn good sniff of a new Nissan vehicle, checking for any unpleasant and overpowering odors as he goes.

In the video, which was mysteriously pulled from YouTube just a few hours after it went up, Ino says that many people are surprised by Nissan’s attention to detail, adding that tests are even conducted under different temperature conditions as hotter climates can intensify odors.

“Sometimes the front and rear seats and made with different materials, so it’s important to check each component carefully,” Ino says, adding that the day before a sniffing session, he avoids strong foods like garlic to ensure that his nose will perform at its best.

If a smellmaster discovers an unpleasant odor, Nissan will carefully analyze the material before deciding whether to change it.

We should point out that Ino and his fellow smellmasters aren’t sniffing every single Nissan vehicle that rolls off the production line. That would, of course, be an absurd waste of time and likely play havoc with their olfactory systems. Instead, the team only needs to check each new version of a car that Nissan makes, so Ino and his colleagues can get on with other work besides just sniffing.

Ino said that while he has sole responsibility for setting Nissan’s global smell standards, regions around the world may alter them slightly depending on customer feedback. The role of smellmaster has strict entry requirements, too, with recruits having to pass a special certification test for smell recognition.

We first heard about the automaker’s smell tests last year when it showed a worker running her nose over cars at the Nissan Technical Center near Detroit.

Speaking at the time, Nissan materials engineer and experienced smellmaster Tori Keerl said: “I think a new car smell does improve the driver’s experience. It’s pretty important to U.S. customers that a new car smell takes them back to that memory of buying their first car. It makes them really excited for the possibilities of what this new car will bring them.”

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Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
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