A new standard for cars

For years, the only power source found in car interiors has been the cigarette lighter socket. It works well enough and people have developed all kinds of devices that tap into its power.

Yet in recent years, smoking has declined while demand for gadgets has skyrocketed. Cell phones, GPS units, iPods and the like are now in regular use inside cars everywhere. This demand forces many people to get ungainly adapters for their lighter sockets to accommodate multiple devices. Cars can easily handle those power demands, but the adapters are huge because the sockets themselves are huge. Not only that, but most of these devices use far less than the 12 volts a car supplies.

Therefore, I propose a new standard for power jacks in car interiors: USB. The ports are small, deliver 5 volts, and are used by so many of the gadgets we like to use in our cars anyway. Instead of a comparatively huge lighter socket on the center console, car makers could put a row of four or five USB ports. Put a couple on the dashboard to avoid cord clutter from the console. Put a couple in each armrest so your passengers can use their own devices. Just pepper them everywhere inside each car. Keep a few of the big 12v sockets around for the big stuff like refrigerators and air pumps, but let USB handle the more abundant stuff.

Or am I already behind the curve on this? Are power-only USB ports popping up now in cars? If not, they should be.