At first glance, Toyota's patent filing published this month for a vehicle fragrance dispenser comes off as touting a pleasant amenity that'll simply keep a car smelling good.
But this feature, as reported by Autoblog, also has some bite.
When the vehicle notices an "illegitimate engine start attempt" by a thief, the filing says, the system will release tear gas in the cabin.
It's a bold take on theft deterrence.
Traditional alarms might scare a thief briefly, but a burst of tear gas would have them cursing the day they tried to steal a Toyota. It might even persuade thieves to remove Toyotas from their target lists — or add gas masks to their shopping lists.
For the legit driver, the fragrance system is nothing to sniff at. It would tailor scents to users' preferences by communicating with their smartphones and deodorize vehicles when a person leaves the car, out of respect for the next occupant's nose.