This content is not included in your SAE MOBILUS subscription, or you are not logged in.

Digitizing that new-car smell

  • Magazine Article
  • 21AUTP06_07
Published June 01, 2021 by SAE International in United States
  • English

The problem with “new-car” smells is the subjectivity of the sense. Nothing chafes at engineers more than subjectivity, which can wreak havoc in validation testing for both OEMs and suppliers. To vet the bouquet of materials in vehicle interiors, lab testing is most often augmented by panels of trained human noses, which judge the different components and the completed vehicle. At SAE International's WCX 2021 conference in April, French odor analysis specialist Aryballe, in collaboration with Asahi Kasei Plastics North America and the Digital Olfaction Automotive Consortium (DOAC), presented on a pathway to digitize and objectively rate automotive scents.

When it comes to vehicle aromas, there is no global industry standard, explained Etienne Bultel, a development engineer at Aryballe responsible for designing and testing digital olfactory solutions. Each OEM has its own testing protocols, rating scales and methods he noted, and neither SAE, ISO nor Germany's VDA has yet managed to craft a global metric. The absence of “unified quantitative norms,” according to Bultel, “leads to increased costs and timing for suppliers, lab-to-lab variations in results and ultimately longer development times for the OEMs.”