Aug 6 2009 Chris Russon
Audi bullish about leather
ONLY leather from bulls is being used by Audi to make the upholstery on its luxury models.
The German car maker says that hides from cows are not of the same quality and are too small.
Almost half of Audi's customers in the UK now specify leather trim in their vehicles and it sells some 36,000 cars a year with luxury interiors.
The company even employs a six-strong team of 'nose detectives' to make sure the leather smells right.
Nose Team members cut small pieces out of the materials to be tested - for example wood inlays and the leather upholstery - and the specimens are placed in a standard canning jar equipped with an odourless gasket.
An oven heats the sealed jar to 80C for two hours when each tester briefly sniffs the contents, reseals it and passes it to his or her colleague. Each team member writes down their grade in secret.
The Audi Nose Team also examines complete components such as dashboards and also a car in its entirety. The sniffers, who analyse approximately 500 different components from the passenger compartment for each model, are chosen by virtue of their particularly sensitive noses.
Smoking is prohibited for experts, while a cold, for example, can stop a team member from working. They also must not give off any scents of their own during testing - whether it be perfume, shower gel, after shave or even garlic.