Floormats are stupid. They’re stupid because they have repeatedly caused life-threatening situations that force carmakers to do recalls for a component that’s as complex as a carpet sample, and because the very existence of floormats is a tacit admission that the materials used in car interiors are all wrong. Floormats only exist because car flooring materials are broken. It’s time we all admitted this.

Think about it: why do you have floormats in your car? For most people, it’s because under those floormats is an expanse of carpet, and that carpet is hard to clean and always in danger of becoming stained or disgusting or both.

So, the floormat takes the abuse the carpet can’t. Often, the floormat is just made of the same shitty carpet as what’s on the car, but has the advantage of being removable and replaceable. We’re covering one chunk of stuff with a piece of the exact same stuff but we’re okay with the upper chunk of stuff getting disgusting because we can get rid of it.

That’s not really a solution. Yes, floormats do their job well enough, but the fact they even have that job to do is the real problem.

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Floormats are the plastic cover over the sofa of our cars. They’re the Bumper Bully of our cars. They exist to compensate for another part’s flaws, and then they in turn create their own issues. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need floormats, because whatever flooring we had in our cars would work so much better than the crappy-ass carpet we’re saddled with.

I’ve ranted against carpet in cars before, but I was reminded of this because the radio station that brings the world Terry Gross reached out to me to ask the very valid question of why we put carpets in cars. 

The truth is there really isn’t a good reason, and car carpet as we know it is a deeply flawed solution, and the existence of floormats is proof of their failure.

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Car flooring should accept reality, already. Unless you routinely drive barefoot and get your rocks removed from the sensation of recycled plastic bottle-carpet fibers between your toes, what are you really getting out of carpet?

There’s all kinds of non-porous rubber and other synthetic vinyls and materials that could deaden sound and insulate as well as carpet, but be far easier to keep clean.

But the sad truth is that no current manufacturer has strong enough groin-pelicans to take a chance and proudly introduce a (non-utility) vehicle with something other than carpet to the market.

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We need to get past this idea that the only “premium” enough material for car floors is carpet. We need to be bold, experiment! It is only by freeing ourselves from the fuzzy shackles of car carpet can we cast off the shameful mantle of floormats and finally, boldly, soar free, free as birds without floormats.