The Audi corporate quality control center has been employing the services of the Nose Team, officially called the Audi Odor Team, since 1985, The Drive reports. It consists of a bunch of chemists led by Heiko Lüßmann-Geiger, who take the time out to sniff every part that goes into an Audi car preparing to head out to the production line.
It makes sense to strive to sell a car that doesn’t smell too strongly of chemicals, or whose parts don’t start giving off offensive or unpleasant odors while in use. The Nose Team ensures that all smells on Audis remain unoffensive throughout the life cycle, from the moment it’s delivered to the customer to the end of life, when it’s been used in various weather conditions.
Lüßmann-Geiger once explained that a bad smell about the car can mar the experience with that car. Think of the way a smell can trigger a memory, good or bad, or how it enhances the experience of dining. The same happens with a car: if it smells bad, you won’t enjoy it, regardless of performance, safety or other considerations.
Enter the Nose Team!
“At the tip of this hierarchy pyramid is the well-being of the customer, right at the base is the smell,” Lüßmann-Geiger said. “If the customer is now irritated by this odor from below, he will no longer correctly perceive all the other positive comfort properties of the vehicle. He is too irritated by the stress brought about by the odor.”
All smells are rated from one (which is completely odorless) to six (deemed “unbearable”). To pass the test and head to production, materials must rate under four (“irritating”), and cases have been known where models have been pulled off the production line because they had suddenly developed higher-rate smells.
The same media outlet says the Nose Team’s efforts also focus on post-production models, in the sense that, once a car completed, it could still be pulled for random testing. If initial scores no longer apply, it won’t be sent out to the dealer as planned.
And just in case you thought the Nose Team was some kind of joke, here’s a recent tweet from Audi praising these silent, nosy heroes.