By on July 20, 2017

air fresheners, Tony Alter/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

China doesn’t possess the same affinity for the iconic “new car smell” that remains popular in North America. The scent itself, a conglomeration of industrial adhesive fumes and the off-gassing of various plastics, is technically toxic air pollution trapped inside the vehicle’s cabin. However, Western drivers have made it synonymous with the pleasantries of owning a new vehicle, while Chinese motorists have not.

This brings up a very important question. Are they bad people?

While it would be very easy to use this single example to conclude that China is a perverse and disturbed nation, Westerners subjected to the volatile compounds of a new car’s interior on a particularly hot day might agree that the smell, in heavy doses, occasionally leaves something to be desired. Ideally, the odor should bring a tear to the eye due to nostalgia or pride, not because it’s trying to flush out the hazardous vapors emitted by baked vinyl.

“Research shows that vehicle interiors contain a unique cocktail of hundreds of toxic chemicals that off-gas in small, confined spaces,” said Jeff Gearhart, research director at the Ecology Center, which has been researching the the smell since 2006. “Since [most of] these chemicals are not regulated, consumers have no way of knowing the dangers they face. Our testing is intended to expose those dangers and encourage manufacturers to use safer alternatives.”

Automakers have been. As a result, the intensity of new car smell has diminished quite a bit since the early 2000s. In North America, it’s largely the result of trying to exclude carcinogenic fumes from substances like polyvinyl chloride. But in China, the practice extends out to nullifying any negative associations shoppers might have with the scent by trying to eliminate it entirely. It’s the number one concern for new car buyers, and automakers and customers go to great lengths to avoid even the slightest whiff.

(Read More…)

By on May 13, 2016

2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE, Image: FCA

You know the world is a bit upside-down when master wordsmith Jack Baruth spins a web so tight in favor of the EPA and CARB that even the Best and Brightest can’t see through it.

Jack makes a valid point today: light-duty trucks, especially those of the diesel variety, are often driven by people who don’t need the capability that those trucks provide. It’s those diesel pickups that spew tons of particulates and NOx into the atmosphere, both of which are harmful to human health. Goodbye, he says to the light-duty diesel truck, before we turn into Europe. Turbo-fed gasoline engines offer just as much torque as their diesel-powered brethren, he exclaims. There’s no need to buy an $80,000 phallus extender. What do you think of this twin-turbo V6 Raptor?

However, Mr. Baruth stopped just short of saying recreational use of light-duty diesel trucks should be outright banned, instead offering up a solution that’s analogous to gun control.

(Read More…)

By on April 19, 2016

 Buick LaCrosse Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV)

The Beijing Motor Show begins next week, but Buick couldn’t wait a minute longer.

At yesterday’s 2016 Buick Day event in Shanghai (was there a parade?), the automaker rolled out its LaCrosse Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV), a model tailor-made for the Chinese market.

China loves Buicks, and Buick loves them right back, so much so that the U.S. will get a Chinese-made model this fall. The LaCrosse HEV is part of General Motors’ plan to foist as many vehicles on China as possible. (Read More…)

By on February 29, 2016

2016 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

After staying relatively clean in the ongoing diesel emissions scandal that’s keeping European automakers up at night, Mercedes-Benz now finds itself the potential target of an Environmental Protection Agency investigation, Automotive News Europe reports.

The EPA’s request for information targets the nitrous oxide emissions of the company’s Bluetec diesel engines, and comes less than two weeks after a class-action lawsuit was filed by law firm Hagens Berman (of General Motors ignition switch fame).

Yes, that sound you’re hearing is executives loosening their collars in Stuttgart.

(Read More…)

By on February 16, 2015

paris authentic citroen 2CV eiffel HR

Want to continue to drive in Paris? You’ll need a new vehicle starting this summer, when the French city begins restricting older vehicles from its heart.

(Read More…)

By on February 9, 2015

Tesla Model S + Space X Under the Space Needle in Seattle

Legislators in the state of Washington have a slate of bills in mind that would encourage more EV adoption in order to help reduce air pollution.

(Read More…)

By on May 29, 2014

China Air Pollution

In its ongoing effort to clear the air in its major cities, the Chinese government has plans to throw 5.33 million non-compliant vehicles into the crusher by the end of 2014.

(Read More…)

By on March 25, 2013

Chinese state TV claims that the air in German cars is dangerous to people’s health. In a report, the station said that insulating materials used in cars made by Audi, BMW and Daimler create noxious odors, Der Spiegel reports. (Read More…)

Recent Comments

  • Inside Looking Out: Tesla makes almost everything that goes into their cars because they think it is more efficient,...
  • sjd: I hate crossovers so that’s why I bought a 2018 Fit Sport. It will also hold its value better than a Soul.
  • sjd: I just bought a 2018 Fit Sport as a third car and love it. I find it only slightly noisier than my 2015 Civic Si...
  • mdensch: I was never asked for permission so, yes, they were printed w/o permission.
  • Big Al From 'Murica: Yes, The Caprice you see Cops running is a different car.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States