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Built-In Auto Espresso Machine Causes A Stir

The idea of a built-in espresso machine in your vehicle adds a whole new twist to the concept of distracted driving, but Italians love their coffee and can now forego pulling over at the nearest cafe to get a java fix. The new Fiat 500L, which hits the streets of Italy this October, features an espresso maker built into the center console.  Made by Italy’s biggest coffee company, Lavazza, it uses cartridges equipped with a single shot of coffee, which minimizes the risk of spilling coffee grounds all over your brand new vehicle.

Detractors are stirred up by the coffee-in-the-console, saying it adds another distraction for drivers who are already stretched to the limit with texting, talking on the phone and using their GPS, much to the detriment of safety.  Texting is a particular bugaboo when it comes to road safety, blamed for causing thousands of accidents yearly in the U.S. alone. But Fiat states that the coffee maker won’t add to the problem because it will only work when the vehicle is at a complete standstill, preventing the hazard that would come to be known as ‘driving while espresso-ing’.

The U.S. version of the Fiat 500L, which has a sporty profile much like the uber-popular Mini Cooper, probably won’t come with its own espresso maker, say the car’s manufacturers.  But the add-on has captured the imagination of other auto makers who are always seeking new ways to pamper buyers of high end luxury vehicles.  Jaguar, Audi and Mercedes all sell vehicles with massaging seats, Cadillac and Range Rover have zonal seat heaters, and Mercedes features colored interior mood lighting.  The world’s most expensive car, Rolls Royce, can be had with a wine cooler, cocktail cabinet and cut-glass crystal decanters and glasses. In light of these luxury options, the Fiat’s espresso machine seems positively utilitarian.  If the trend continues, can we expect a toaster on the dash and a microwave under the seat before too long?