I am sure you have seen all these people going out of their cars with the gigantic Starbucks coffee right ?
Key question : how do they do to not spill their drinks everywhere in the cars ?
One answer : the cup holders. Not 1, not 2 but loooots of cup holders in the cars.
So much to say about it.
Let’s dig a bit
Up to 19 in car… yes 19 cup holders
You might not believe me and you think that I am exaggerating or that this is only in cars modified by die hard cup holders fans ? Nope, this is a standard version of a 9 seat Subaru. Even my little 2009 Honda FIT has like 6 accessible cup holders for the 2 front seats…
Apparently, we are reaching the top era of the cup holder design. I am sure you did not realize how lucky you are.
How did it all start : my preliminary conspiracy based scenarios
A few of my thoughts :
Scenario 1 - a conspiracy between the drinks and the automotive industries → the automotive industry developed differentiation adding cup holders in cars and at the same time they invested into drive-through (the other way around works)
Scenario 2 - a conspiracy of the medical industry → they would actually be behind the implementation of the scenario 1 so that they would sell drugs to treat diabetes caused by the sweet drinks held by the cup holders.
No conspiracy between industries - it is all about food and drinks and being practical
The first introduction of car cup holders came from the development of drive-in and drive-through restaurants and theatre in the 20’s, it was just convenient to have something to hold the drinks so you can eat and drink while in your car*. One thing leading to another, the automotive industry started to implement built-in cup holders in the 60’s.
In 2007, cup holders became one of the key criteria for car purchase process, before gas consumption - no comment.
The cup holders - not a simple piece of equipment to design
I am sure you have never looked at how complex it might be to write the specifications of the cup holders of your car (I am a bit geek sometimes, I know). Think about all the functions the cup holder has to fill :
holding all type of size of drinks - not to strong, not too loose
coping with the road challenges, speed, brake …
being accessible to all type of human being
using as less space as possible
being easily cleanable
not compromising safety
not compromising access to other car controls
being not too ugly
enabling differentiating your car from other car .
The first patent on cup holder was filled by Ford in 1953… I am telling you this is a key differentiator for the automotive industry and they knew it early on !
And now I am tempted to launch a patent landscape study to know more about the automotive industry will be coming up with in the next few years...
Cup holders everywhere
A little reminder on where you can find cup holders :
While exercising : bike, treadmills
While walking : on strollers, on supermarket carts
While hanging out : sofa
Unclassified : umbrella, suitcase, crib,
So based on that
A little game with Google search :
- type 'cup holder' --> 450 millions of results
- type 'porte gobelet' --> 5 millions
*Little parenthesis on that : while I believe cup holders are really practical for long drive and for coffee holding during their commute, I still do not understand why they need to eat in their car on the parking lot while there are seats inside the restaurant. I will explore why later…