Volvo smell specialists sniff out troublesome scents
Many customers taking delivery of their new March '05 registration car will probably look forward to that distinctive ‘new car smell’. But, for many drivers or passengers, the chemicals that produce that strong ‘new’ scent can cause headaches and be a nightmare for allergy sufferers - but not in new Volvos.
To judge whether a smell is pleasant or not, the sensitivity of the human nose is needed - and that’s where the eight members of the Volvo ‘nose team’ come in. This elite team of expert sniffers are responsible for smell-testing every component in Volvo car interiors to make sure they are inoffensive and safe, no matter where the Volvo owner is in the world.
The materials brought in for smell-testing are prepared very carefully, with small pieces placed in sterilised glass jars. They are then put into ovens and warmed to different temperatures to simulate the typical changes in cabin climate experienced by Volvo owners round the world, as the hotter the interior becomes, the more it tends to give off a smell. This is relevant in warm cars during the winter months, as well as on summer days when getting into a baking car can literally be a breath-taking experience.
Every member of the Volvo nose team inhales deeply from each jar and gives each component a score between one and six, where ‘one’ is unnoticeable and ‘six’ is overpowering. Nothing that scores more than ‘three’ will be approved for use in a Volvo interior.
The materials used in Volvo car interiors also meet the requirements of the international Oeko-Tex 100 standard, which means they are also tested for allergenic dyes, pesticides and heavy metals to detect chemicals that trigger allergies, even under extreme temperatures, and ensure that all materials used in Volvo car interiors are free from emissions.
All this serves to ensure that not only are Volvo interiors designed to be non-allergenic, but that the characteristic Volvo ‘new car’ smell remains unobtrusive, inoffensive and safe.Published 28 February 2005