Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Hate the New Car Smell? Ford Filed a Patent Just for You

That new car smell. For some, it's intoxicating. For others? It's toxic. Count consumers in China in the latter category. "Unpleasant interior smell/odor remains the top industry problem in that market," according to J.D. Power's Brent Gruber. "To put that in context, it is nearly double the problem rate of the second most prevalent problem, excessive fuel consumption."

The solution to that problem? An odor-removal process that eliminates that new car smell after a vehicle has been purchased. Ford has apparently patented such a "vehicle odor remediation" process, but how does it work? And will American car buyers hop on board?

Can't You Smell That Smell?

If you look online or browse the shelves of any automotive store for long enough, you'll find dozens of products designed to give your old automobile that "new car smell." But the U.S. market pales in comparison to its Chinese counterpart, and those noses are a little more sensitive. Chinese car buyers are particularly sensitive to the smell of their new cars, reported Quartz media. "They place unpleasant smells ahead of engine performance or safety as their top reason for not buying a new car."

So, what is Ford proposing to do about it? The Detroit Free Press describes the smell-scrubbing process:

The process described in the patent involves parking the car in the sun, opening the windows slightly, and optionally turning the engine, heater and fan on. The system includes special software and various air quality sensors, and works only when fitted to a driverless or semi-autonomous vehicle.
A lot of technology is involved in the patent application. The car would determine whether conditions are right to expel compounds, and the car would drive itself to a place in the sun and bake away the offensive odor.

The U.S. Patent Office has yet to rule on the application. But if you're one of the many people not excited by that new car smell, you might soon be able to tell your car to drive around until it gets rid of it.

Related Resources: