Portable Power Pains

car with power cordsCars are transit, sure.   But increasingly, with all of our cell phones, notebook PCs, MP3 players, & other electronics gear, they’re also serving as mobile office & entertainment hubs.   Given that, why are we still stuck with these lousy 12-volt power ports (formally, ANSI/SAE J563) in our cars?

The Toyota Matrix (a.k.a. Pontiac Vibe) has had on-board standard 115V power outlets for several years.   Mercury Hybrid Mariner, Volkswagen Touareg, & Honda Odyssey van all have AC outlets now.   So it’s high time the other automakers get on-board with this idea.   As our dependance upon gadgets & mobility continues to exponentially increase, automakers should be adapting to meet these new needs by making power outlets a standard on all cars.   Considering that you can buy a top-notch power inverter for less than $30, surely the added expense for automakers to build that functionality right in at the factory (beginning at the drawing-board stage) would have to be nominal.

And y’know, there’s a little "Oliver Stone-esqe" part lodged deep in my primative monkey brain that wonders if there might just be some minor conspiracy at work here.   Manufacturing & marketing all those assorted power inverters & "cigarette lighter" chargers for every gizmo known to man is probably quite a profitable business, after all.   Maybe "big electronics" is in cahoots with "big oil" in a dastardly & insidious plot to keep us all hopelessly strung-out on all those annoying, blister-pack-bound, cheap whatzits & doodads for the obsolete car power port.

What do you think?   Isn’t it time for the old 12-volt power port to go away?


  1. I guess the bigger question is what are you wanting to use in your car that requires 115v…a toaster? A coffee maker? A big screen TV? A desktop computer?

    Most portable electronics only need 12 volts DC or less to operate. A lot of items that plug into the wall reduce down to 12v DC.

    So, unless you just didn't have time to toast that bagel or blow dry you hair before you left for work, there isn't much justification for 115v AC power outlet in a car.

    And apparently consumer demand isn't high enough yet or all car makers would have them.

  2. My issue isn't with the amount of power but the type of connector. So many people are dependent upon mobile communications electronics now – cell phone, GPS, notebook PCs, iPods, etc. – and they all come with the standard 2-prong plug or brick designed for standard 115v power outlets like those found in your home.

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