When you're shopping for a new car, you'll find more options than ever these days, including built-in WiFi, in-car air fragrance systems, massaging seats, autonomous driving and even gaming systems. But what about cupholders? Are the cupholders in your car indispensable, critical elements of your well-being?
Well, considering automakers are offering as many as 19 cupholders in one car, it sure seems like Americans can't live without them. Way back in 2007, a PricewaterhouseCoopers report revealed that the number of cupholders in a vehicle was one of the most important factors to potential buyers. But what about today? Americans do spend more time in our cars than ever because of longer and more traffic-heavy commutes. But do long commute times necessitate the need for nearly 20 cupholders in a car?
Before we break down the worst offenders, let's take a quick look back on when cupholders first showed up. In older, smaller cars, there was simply no room for cupholders, especially in those with manual transmissions; the gearshifts took up considerable space inside the vehicles and required drivers to use both hands at all times. The first patent for a vehicle cupholder was granted in 1953, though it was an add-on accessory. The drive-in restaurant boom of the 1950s, along with drive-in movies, surely helped contribute to their popularity.
But the cupholder craze kicked off when the 1984 Plymouth Voyager minivan became the first vehicle to feature an integrated center console that could hold two, 12-ounce (354-milliliter) cups. And the trend just spirals out of control from there, as automakers began to prioritize cupholders above all other creature comforts we expect in a car.