The smell of a new car comes from the use of leather, plastic and glue, which are mixed into an aromatic cocktail. To make this scent as pleasant as possible, Peter Carl Eastland is employed as Nissan’s Lead Smell Engineer at the Nissan Technical Center in Europe. He and his trained nose are working to improve the scent in cars.
Eastland smelled all the materials that can be used in the cabin, from the leather upholstery to the steering wheel. In addition to his excellent sense of smell, Eastland received his Master of Chemistry in Forensic Medicine from the University of Leicester in the UK.
The job is not as easy as sniffing a bunch of car parts. Scent can change with temperature and time, which is why Eastland has to evaluate materials under several conditions. With any change or new design, potential odors should be part of a broader assessment of the effectiveness of that change.
Nissan also has engineers with similar jobs in Japan and the United States performing the same responsibilities in building cars in those markets.
There are also regulatory issues to tackle. Certain materials may contain volatile organic compounds that can cause allergic reactions in passengers. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, China, Japan and have developed guidelines for air quality in vehicle interiors to mitigate these reactions.