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Automakers have cooked up some weird car features over the years. Remember the Subaru Brat’s backward-facing seats in the bed? About a decade ago, Fiat added some eye-opening technology to one of its models. Let’s look at whether the Fiat coffee maker was an accident waiting to happen or an ingenious feature ahead of its time.

Fiat crammed a coffee maker into the 500L

The Fiat coffee maker by Lavazza, shown in a Fiat 500L
Fiat’s Lavazza espresso maker | Stellantis

Automotive brands have implemented many interesting car features, from cup warmers to cigar storage compartments. Some are useful, while others are head-scratching. 

Fiat joined the game in 2012 when it designed a vehicle to improve upon its minicar, the 500. Marking its return to the U.S. market, the brand produced the extended-version 500L. To spruce up the modest vehicle, engineers installed a unique feature. 

It was a Lavazza espresso machine, allowing car occupants to brew a coffee drink. This vehicle was set to hit the North American market in 2013, New Atlas reports. 

Unfortunately, the 500 L was a flop. Its ugly exterior and slow speed turned off consumers.

What was the deal with the Fiat coffee maker?

The Fiat 500L was the first production car with a built-in coffee maker. To make that happen, the automaker collaborated with Lavazza, an Italian company making coffee products. 

The unit in the 500L was an espresso machine using Lavazza’s A Modo Mio system. Buyers received not only the coffee maker but also cups, a spoon, and a sugar container. 

Fiat’s specially designed espresso machine sat in a compartment in the 500L’s console. It brewed java only while the vehicle was parked. However, the coffee maker didn’t make the cut for the American 500L, according to Luxury Launches.

Is an in-car coffee maker a good idea?

Although some mind-blowing car features are meant to be practical, not all have been. Many appear to be marketing stunts to draw attention to new models.

One example appeared in an ultra-luxury vehicle. In 2013, Rolls-Royce implemented a pop-out umbrella tucked inside the driver’s door. Sure, it’s handy for rainy days, but $1,000 for a specialty umbrella seems excessive. Then again, only the mega-wealthy could afford one of these models anyway. 

In 1984, Toyota decided to install ice makers in its cargo vans. Although that feature could be useful, it wouldn’t be practical today because most people use bottles and travel mugs. But having an ice maker in an RV or camper makes sense. 

As for the Fiat coffee maker, it sounded ingenious. However, the company didn’t introduce the feature with much fanfare when the 500L debuted that year. Instead, the press releases seemed to go viral among auto blogs and news outlets. The espresso machine even sparked debates from groups claiming it was a dangerous driving distraction. (They must’ve missed the explanation that the device worked only when the car was parked.) 

Was the Fiat coffee maker an accident waiting to happen or an innovation ahead of its time? It was likely just a marketing stunt to sell the 500L


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