Electric vehicles run on electricity, so they will not give off smells that have been associated with the motorcar for over 100 years. Those smells are typically the fumes of the fuel, exhaust gases and also lubricants in some cases.
In a Ford-commissioned survey, one in five drivers said the smell of petrol is what they would miss most if they switched to an electric vehicle, with almost 70% claiming they would miss the smell of petrol to some degree. Petrol also ranked as a more popular scent than both wine and cheese, and almost identically to the smell of new books.
Association with the Mustang
This led Ford to look for a way to help those with a fondness for the evocative smells of traditional petrol cars to make the transition. Their solution: a high-end fragrance that fuses smokiness, aspects of rubber and even an ‘animal’ element to associate with the Ford Mustang heritage.
The Mustang connection is because Ford is now selling an electrically-powered variant of the bestselling sportscar in the world – the Mustang Mach-E GT. It was revealed over last weekend at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England. However, it’s not for sale and is part of the carmaker’s ongoing mission to help dispel myths around electric cars and convince traditional car enthusiasts of the potential of electric vehicles.
Created by a perfume specialist
Known as ‘Mach-Eau’, the fragrance was created by British fragrance specialist, Olfiction, with ingredients that each add a specific element of the scent’s story. Olfiction’s Pia Long, an Associate Perfumer in the British Society of Perfumers, has been creating fragrances for some of the most famous perfume brands and was instrumental in its inception.
Her starting point was to look into the chemicals that are emitted from car interiors, engines and petrol. This included benzaldehyde, which is an almond-like scent given off by car interiors, and para-cresol which is key in creating the rubbery scent of tyres. These were blended with ingredients like blue ginger, lavender, geranium and sandalwood that added metallic, smoky and further rubbery accents. An ‘animal’ element was also included, giving an impression of horses to underline the Mustang heritage. The bottle also comes in a container shaped like a fuel pump.
“Judging by our survey findings, the sensory appeal of petrol cars is still something drivers are reluctant to give up. The Mach Eau fragrance is designed to give them a hint of that fuel-fragrance they still crave. It should linger long enough for the GT’s performance to make any other doubts vaporise too,” said Jay Ward, director, Ford of Europe Product Communications.
Other carmakers have perfumes too
While Ford has no plans to commercialise the Mach Eau fragrance, other carmakers have licensed the use of their brand names on perfumes for many years. Exotic carmakers like Lamborghini and Ferrari have a line of perfumes though they are essentially perfumes without that ‘connection’ the car smells.
Mazda Design also got involved in the carmaker’s first perfume product in 2017. The perfume, with a blend of wood, rose and leather fragrances, was intended to be associated with Mazda’s KODO: Soul of Motion design concept. While the bottle was typical of such products, the outer case that it was stored in was meant to symbolize the KODO design and won a gold award in Germany’s iF Design Awards.