Debate brews around espresso machines in new Fiat
Fiat shows the Lavazza espresso machine built and docked into a console in the new European model of the Fiat 500L.
July 16th, 2012
11:31 AM ET

Debate brews around espresso machines in new Fiat

Drivers love fancy technology extras packed in their car and Fiat is hoping their latest innovation may be the best yet - one that can save you a trip to your favorite coffee store.

But the car designers new innovative addition to their latest line, due out in Italy in October, is landing them in some hot water with some consumers concerned about it adding to a mounting list of things that distract drivers. However, the car maker says, don't rush to judgement, you can't brew up a cup unless your car is stopped.

Their new crossover model the Fiat 500L boasts a whole range of accessories, but the one drawing the most attention and perhaps concerns, is their built-in espresso machine. That's right. Forget your Starbucks runs, or trying to rush out the door to work with your homemade brew.  Instead, inside your console you'll find a "new coffee machine created in collaboration with Lavazza," considered to be the Starbucks of Italy.

"The 500L is the first standard-production car in the world to offer a true espresso coffee machine that utilises the technology of the 'A Modo Mio' pods," the company said in a press release. "It is perfectly integrated in the car with a deck designed expressly by Fiat."

A video put out by the automaker shows a cartoon character couple debating the choice of having to make a coffee run. But no longer!

"Do you want to take a break while flavouring the best Italian espresso coffee without stepping out of the car? With 500L even this will be possible!" the company touts on its Italian site. 

Passengers can brew on the road, filling the car with the sweet aroma of drink of the tired.

" It will be possible to enjoy ... inside a car the high quality, the unique taste, the body and creaminess of the true Italian espresso," the automaker boasts.

While it is certainly a first-of-its kind offering, the function has been met with a lot of criticism in the U.S. about concerns that drivers don't need another distraction while driving. Most of the focus of distracted driving campaigns have focused on texting, including a new set of public service announcement commercials from AT&T that show the fatal consequences of multitasking while driving.

So, when news of the coffee meets car collaboration hit the Web in the U.S., people on Twitter took the car company to task, noting that while we can't drive while texting in many places, it doesn't seem like a stellar idea to be making scorching hot coffee while taking your car to the road. It was unclear if those criticizing the idea knew the machine only worked while the car was stopped, a detail that was not touted on the car's site or in many media pieces criticizing the idea.

Even TV host Tom Bergeron weighed in on the idea, remarking that the innovative addition may be more dangerous than impressive.

[tweet https://twitter.com/Tom_Bergeron/status/224845319534424064%5D

And it prompted responses from others that wondered whether it would lead to lawsuits, similar to the infamous McDonald's scalding hot coffee debacle and concerns from auto blogs and writers about the safety of the innovation.

[tweet https://twitter.com/CineSportsTalk/status/224867954657984512%5D

But the automaker wants to make a few things clear in the wake of the sudden uproar about the espresso machine's safety. They say they've done the testing and they are sure their setup is safe for drivers.

"You can use it only when the car is stopped," Norman Winkler, the communications press officer for Fiat in Europe told CNN. "It's quite tiny and it has a docking station in which it remains locked. The quantity of coffee is much (less) than usual use in the cups in the states. Its espresso, it's very tiny."

And it's not even clear whether those who are outraged in the U.S. will even have to deal with the issue. Jiyan Cadiz, the spokesman for Fiat in the U.S., said it was too soon to say what features might or might not show up in the American model.

"We have not provided any product details at this time," he told CNN. "As we get closer to our own launch of the vehicle we’ll provide feature availability and specs and more context between the Euro cousin and the U.S. model."

soundoff (90 Responses)
  1. justCurious

    Oh gee, this comment section has lost all sense of humor. I think a coffee maker in the car would be fun, I would get one just to say to somebody, hey, want a cup? Design is cute. Highway reststops or getting gas will never be as boring again! I am standing in rush hour long enough sometimes that it could work there. Willing to try, SIGN ME UP.

    July 16, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. akhmedalkhlij

    Most valuable part of this terrible little car.

    July 16, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. M.E.

    Fiat: always finding new ways to endear me to them.

    July 16, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. mikescouch

    Didn't we learn anything from the lawsuit on the cup of coffee being too hot and hence now cups say HOT on them? Really, are we going to wait and see how this plays out?

    July 16, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Gene Atget

    Please, you're a professional reporter. Learn how to spell 'judgment'!!

    July 16, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Alex

    Well, at least the caffeine will stimulate the driver to move more quickly, as FIAT cars (in general) are slow.

    July 16, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dr What

    I want the model with the waffle maker.

    July 16, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    Another reason that I love Italy so much!
    La gente piu simpatica del mondo!

    July 16, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Cantstandya

    Don't let Kramer drive this car 🙂 I think an Espresso maker in a car is great! One more suggestion: Let's put a toaster in for Pop Tarts!! Thanks Fiat for a whole new spin on Fast Food 🙂

    July 16, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. 1amazed1

    Awesome

    July 16, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. FastFrankie

    Don't do it Fiat! You're just reinforcing stereotypes!

    July 16, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. JerseyJeff

    The other options not mentioned were the chilled wine holder and carbonated water dispenser.
    The American model will come with it's own fountain soda dispenser and microwave glove box

    July 16, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Your currency is dead in September or October sucks to be U

    It worked so well for (fiat) currency.

    July 16, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. colts1919

    The upcoming Ford McArch has a griddle and deep-fryer built into the dashboard. I read it on the internet, so it must be true...

    July 16, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. muaythai

    how can an entire company managing board and advertising board get together, pitch this, pass it and ACTUALLY this its a good idea? these people are f@^king IDIOTS!

    July 16, 2012 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
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