How Do You Say "New Car Smell" (or "Offgassing") in Chinese?

how do you say new car smell or offgassing in chinese

With the return of two storied nameplates like the Ford GT and Acura NSX, it’s easy to understand why the only Chinese automaker with a display at the North American International Auto Show last month in Detroit, Guangzhou Automobile Group Co., didn’t get much attention. For the past decade or so, a number of Chinese car companies have had displays and press conferences at the media previews to the Detroit show, some of them with plans to export cars to North America, but so far little or nothing of substance has come to fruition from those plans. Whether or not they end up selling Chinese cars here, it does make a little bit of sense to take advantage of the presence at the NAIAS of thousands of members of the international press. That’s probably why GAC used the 2015 NAIAS to have the world premiere of their GS4 compact SUV. In addition to the GS4, which appears to be more of a car based crossover than a serious SUV, GAC also showed their GA6 sedan (which they say was developed for “the higher end market”) and the WITSTAR concept (that included it’s own built in aquarium between the back seats).

Surprisingly, they kept their display in the concourse of Cobo Hall up for the duration of the industry preview and public days of the show as well, no doubt to gauge the reaction of American consumers (and those Canadians who cross the river from Ontario to see the show as well) should they decide to bring product to this continent. From comments I overheard, consumer reaction may not have been as positive as they hoped.

Most automotive writers and journalists who cover the car scene leave Detroit by the time the sun goes down on the second day of the NAIAS media preview. I have the advantage that Cobo Hall is just a 20 minute drive from where I’m sitting now so if I forget to shoot photos or video of this or that car in the hubub of the preview, I can always pop downtown during the public days of the show. The GAC cars were on my list of fill-ins, and while I was circling the car taking my usual sequence of car shots, I watched a couple of men check out and sit in the GS4.

What they saw was a car with the interior trim standards of something from Korea at least a couple of product cycles old. Nothing particularly terrible looking but despite GAC’s claim to be “on par with global rivals”, it’s not quite on the level that most manufacturers are meeting or exceeding these days. The gentlemen adjusted their seats, and fiddled with the controls. As I waited for them to exit the car so I could get more photos, they were talking not about how the GAC GS4 looked and felt, but rather how it smelled. “Offgassing” was what they said.

After they exited the car and I went to take some interior photographs, I got a whiff (quite literally) of what they were talking about. Standing about 18-24 inches from the car, in the open doorway, the chemical odor was stronger than any “new car smell” I’ve ever experienced. If this is what it smelled like in the relatively cool concourse of Cobo Hall in January, one can only imagine how strong the offgassing would be on a hot summer day with the car sitting in the sun.

GAC may truly believe that they are on par with global car companies, but right now their products feel and smell too cheap to compete even with the bottom feeders of the North American market. If they tried exporting their current vehicles to North America, to use another golf idiom, they wouldn’t make the cut.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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  • Brianyates Brianyates on Feb 16, 2015

    Lie to me,it(the aquarium) is so that they can eat fresh sushi whilst stuck in a traffic jam(or two!)

  • DrGastro997 DrGastro997 on Feb 24, 2015

    I absolutely refuse to ever by a car made in China. They'll need another 30 years to get onboard...

  • 01 Deville
  • Lou_BC This would be a good colour for anyone that would actually use their truck offroad, on gravel roads, in the winter or poor visibility situations.
  • EBFlex “getting a full charge in just about three hours or so. Not that it would’ve mattered if I couldn’t charge – I’d just run on gas.”And this folks is why PHEVs are the future and pure EVs will remain vanity products for the rich.
  • Pmirp1 Simple. Electrics are not yet prime time. In time, they may become the norm. For now, they are still the new kid on the block. A curosity. A status symbol. They are not the work horse of American life. Everyone knows that. You buy it because it is fast. It makes you feel like, you know, Prius like 10-15 years ago.Electrics have improved. Tesla is without a doubt the standard bearer. Still, long way to go before they can be your ONE vehicle. So companies charge more because these things are coooool. Not real.
  • Rich Benkwitt I’ll take that red and white 2 door and I guess the 4 banger so I can have the manual tranny just like my 1969 Bronco. I have my Wildtrak on order now waiting impatiently!