The car buying experience is really a ritual – the glass-walled showroom, the pushy salesmen, the shiny just-waxed cars that feel like yours at the very first touch – and then there’s that new-car smell. Its a little bit like fresh paint, or old leather, but whatever it is makes it feel like the car just rolled off the assembly line. It turns out that new-car smell is a toxic soup of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) released by plastic parts inside the car. Last year, NASA researchers developed a remarkable coating that permanently seals in these gases for use in confined environments where out-gassing plastic poses a deadly threat. Despite this, car companies are working to find their own solution. So what still seems to be the problem?