There’s something wonderful and slightly intoxicating about the smell of a new car. It’s some undefinable combination of things that runs a high probability of killing you slowly, but it’s wonderful. There are even air fresheners designed to give a little new car aroma to your old piece of junk. That’s how much we love new car smell in the United States. China, on the other hand, wants their new cars to smell like nothing.
I bought my first new car in college and gave this really cute guy in my Business Statistics class a ride home one day when it was cold and rainy. My car was beautiful and perfect and still had new car smell. He got inside, immediately wrinkled his nose, and told me he hated new car smell. I never spoke to him again because that is just not right.
What I really should have done was boot him out of the car on the sidewalk for being ungrateful and then suggest he move to China, where they don’t like new car smell, either. Lincoln did some research and found out that the Chinese don’t like that heady smell of plastic and glue and leather.
They don’t want new car smell or any other smell in their new cars. They want just the smell of nothing. I cannot even wrap my head around this because if I opened a car door in a dealership and it smelled like nothing I’d be immediately suspicious. Witchcraft? Wizardry? What is this madness?
To make their Chinese customers happy, Lincoln has come up with a way to remove that smell from cars by putting a carbon canister in the cabin before vehicles leave the United States. The carbon removes all the smell from the car during its journey so that by the time it reaches China it is smell-free.
It’s all part of Lincoln’s strategy to grow the brand in China and to understand the cultural differences between markets. In addition to getting rid of the smell, they’ve designed their dealerships to look more like living rooms with a selection of teas to sip, interactive LED televisions and even a viewing lounge where you can watch any work done on your car.
I’ll admit that a hot cup of tea and a comfy chair would be nice while I’m waiting for my car to be serviced, but they can keep their fancy carbon canisters out of my new car.