Little Trees disposable air fresheners: Mercedes-Benz Museum Inside No. 27/2021
- Invented in the 1950s and containing Alpine tree aromas
- Scents based on individual preferences are successively released into the air in the car
- The idea has now been extended in the AIR-BALANCE Package from Mercedes-Benz
- “33 Extras”: Exhibits of motoring culture at the Mercedes-Benz Museum
Stuttgart. 160 vehicles and a total of 1,500 exhibits are presented in the varied permanent exhibition of the Mercedes-Benz Museum. The “33 Extras” are a particular highlight: they can bring the history of personal mobility and motoring culture to life using details that are often surprising. The Mercedes-Benz Museum Inside newsletter series draws attention to the “33 Extras” and focuses on their background stories. Today’s issue is all about Little Trees.
27/33: Little Trees disposable air fresheners
Unpleasant smells: Stale air and unpleasant smells in a car interior are definitely not wanted. Ventilation and air conditioning ensure a continuous exchange of air and promote the feel-good factor. Opening the window can also help – in an ideal case, the fragrances wafting through the car then conjure up perceptions of a beautiful spring landscape or a coniferous forest in summer. But what is the answer if the odour perceived is less pleasant – and persistent?
A breath of fresh air: The question arose when North American farmers asked Canadian chemist Julius Sämann for help in the early 1950s. They were bothered by the smells generated by the animals they had to transport or the smell of spilt milk. The expert found a solution by soaking porous cardboard in pine needle oil. The material released its powerful scent gradually, so the intensive natural scent was preserved for a longer period of time. In a variation on the design principle “form follows function”, Sämann shaped his innovative product to look like the outline of a small coniferous tree – the “Little Tree” was born.
Effective marketing: From that time on, Little Trees were frequently seen swinging in the interiors of cars. The inside rear-view mirror close to the windscreen became the perfect presentation showcase. This is how the Little Trees created their own “shop window”. In this way, they gradually spread around the world, becoming a symbol of freshness – in privately owned vehicles and as a service to customers in taxis.
Something for every taste: Julius Sämann was a very assiduous entrepreneur. He not only founded his own company to produce and distribute his Little Trees, but also offered a range of different fragrances from an early stage. In addition to “Royal Pine”, there were also “Spice” and “Bouquet” scents. Soon “Caribbean Colada” brought a waft of South Seas air, but also “Vanillaroma” and especially the “New Car Scent” became bestsellers. The exhibit on show as one of the “33 Extras” at the Mercedes-Benz Museum is of the “Green Apple” variety. The Little Trees with their many scent variations are still successful today because they offer an easy way to freshen up the air in enclosed spaces.
The noble variant: There are, however, other technically orientated options. In 2009, a flacon fragrance system celebrated its world premiere in the Maybach Zeppelin. At the touch of a button, it created a fragrance experience thanks to sophisticated perfume atomiser technology and high-quality scents. The centrepiece was an internally illuminated acrylic glass sphere on the rear centre console, which the Maybach Zeppelin owner could personalise by adding his or her preferred perfume. Although the Maybach Zeppelin was only built in limited numbers, the demand for this special feature showed the developers that there was, indeed, demand for a fragrance system.
Balance of scents: Presented in 2013, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class of the 222 model series introduced the AIR-BALANCE Package as a world first. It not only actively fragranced the car interior, but also ionised the interior air and offered a much enhanced filter system. The intensity of the fragrance can be adjusted via the COMAND system. Today, AIR-BALANCE is available in numerous models – right up to the Mercedes-Benz EQC.