Hyundai Ditches Cigarette Lighters Because People Just Want A USB Port

What are you doing with the cigarette lighter in your car? Most people aren’t using it for smoking things these days. Hyundai thinks they’re worthless, so they’re replacing them in their cars with USB ports.

So far, it’s just for Hyundais on the South Korean market beginning this month, according to Quartz and The Korea Herald. A survey conducted by Hyundai showed 84% of respondents said they didn’t use the lighter in their car and 92% said they would rather have a USB port over the lighter hole.

Which sounds about right, actually. If you drive a newer car, especially one equipped to handle your portable music device or smartphone, there’s a good chance the 12-volt socket is going unused. Or you're just using a cigarette lighter socket as a USB port.

It’s a little funny that just a decade ago, cars were getting packed with these cigarette lighter sockets – just without that springy little lighter mechanism. With portable electronics becoming commonplace, automakers got the message that people were using them to charge phones, laptops and whatever people need while they’re in their cars.

But then it just made sense that phones should be charged with USB ports, which is why cars like the 2015 Chevy Suburban offer six USB ports. And several cars now offer household-style 110-volt outlets so you can plug a laptop right in and so you can forget about those 12-volt adapters from Best Buy.

The people who still want an in-car lighter have been buying that accessory for $20-or-so from the parts department for years now, or have decided a $3 plastic lighter satisfies their needs.

Will the cigarette lighter socket join the in-dash cassette player in the automotive graveyard soon? It’s looking even more likely now.

UPDATE: A rep from Hyundai America assures us the 12-volt socket isn't going away from Korean-market Hyundais, just the car lighter itself.

Photo: Flickr/Tobias Toft