The cars of the 21st century are nothing like those of the ’50s or even the ’80s. The newest cars come with a list of standard and optional accessories that would leave our ancestors flabbergasted. Now that the automobile has become a home away from home for many people, automobile accessories often have nothing to do with the main purpose of the vehicle: transportation. Here are three car features I could do without.
50 Cup Holders
I know I exaggerate, but having cup holders in every conceivable spot in the passenger compartment is overkill. Sometimes, for example, a busy mom unpacking and cleaning up from a trip may think she found every cup in every cup holder–but she missed one. The one she missed had chocolate milk in it. She found it days later when a mysterious odor permeated the van. (Don’t ask me why I know this story. I am protecting the identity of the mom.)
The back-up camera on my Chrysler Town and Country minivan is only good for one thing: spotting something standing directly center-back of my vehicle under ideal lighting and weather conditions. If it is sunny, the glare keeps me from seeing anything. Rain and snow can also obscure the view. The back-up camera may also give an inexperienced driver a false sense of security, as they don’t understand the very limited view it is giving. I am sure to let my teens know that the back-up camera is not a substitute for checking on all sides as they back out of a parking space. Often the hazard is not directly behind you, but in motion just outside your peripheral vision. The most useful accessory when backing up is the human neck, which is able to rotate the head and enable the eyes to see what is behind the car.
I believe the auto manufacturers call them door pockets, but those molded plastic trays at the bottoms of the doors are not something I like at all. They are shallow enough that sometimes important stuff (such as a map) will fall out when you open or shut the door. They are deep enough, however, to catch all manner of disgusting things: dead insects, cracker crumbs, lint, etc. They are not easy to clean, either.
My Advice to Manufacturers
Car manufacturers need to get back to the basics. As a mom with an industrial engineering degree, I advise more focus on features that make a difference: reliability, ease of repairs, functionality of the instrument panel. The car is first of all a transportation tool. It is time to stop thinking of it as an entertainment center, dining room, and storage facility. I’ll trade thirty of my cup holders for an engine that will go 200,000 miles!