Nissan aiming for the smell of success for Infiniti

January 11, 1992|By Matt Nauman | Matt Nauman,Knight-Ridder News Service

DETROIT -- Mazda uses "it just feels right" to sell its cars. Another Japanese automaker, Infiniti, could launch its new J30 luxury sedan this spring by telling buyers, "It just smells right."

Infiniti designers sweated hundreds of details to get the product right -- "even orchestrating how it smells so that it's a total comprehensive experience when you get in this car," said Jerry Hirshberg, a vice president with Nissan Design International in San Diego. Infiniti is a division of Nissan.

Getting the perfect new-car smell is "not just a happy accident," he said. "We'll sniff a cross section of leathers, for example. We'll actually smell the plastic, smell the wood."

An example of this by-the-nose design, Mr. Hirshberg said, is something he called black-box smells. That's when someone puts some leather in a box so that other designers can't see it. They stick their noses in an opening in one end of the box and take a whiff.

"There are sweet leather smells. There are leather smells that should better have been left underneath a cow," he said.

The 1993 Infiniti J30 goes on sale in March and will be priced in the low to mid-$30,000 range.

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