Will self-driving cars hurt Cozy Coupe sales? | Two Decades of Kids and Counting | Sally Torbey | Palo Alto Online |

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Two Decades of Kids and Counting

By Sally Torbey

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About this blog: About this blog: I have enjoyed parenting five children in Palo Alto for the past two decades and have opinions about everything to do with parenting kids (and dogs). The goal of my blog is to share the good times and discuss the ...  (More)

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Will self-driving cars hurt Cozy Coupe sales?

Uploaded: Sep 21, 2016
Yesterday morning I maneuvered my too-adorable two-year-old cousin down the sidewalk in a vibrant orange and yellow Little Tikes Cozy Coupe, while she delightedly steered the vehicle and beeped the horn. We bought the coupe in 1993 for our eldest son, and it is hands down the most reliable car we’ve ever owned: energy efficient, requiring minimal maintenance, and still fun to drive after two decades! At one point we had a collection of three Coupes, all passed on to us by friends and neighbors, although my husband was convinced the Coupes were cloning themselves in our backyard.

Yesterday evening I also spent time in a slightly larger vehicle, my minivan, teaching my 15-year-old daughter to drive. Admittedly not as delightful an experience as pushing a Cozy Coupe, but one for which I am almost nostalgic, because driving a car will soon be a skill which will be about as useful as driving a team of horses. Mostly, though, I worried how self-driving cars will affect the sales of one of the best-selling cars in America for almost 40 years, the Cozy Coupe, of course!

My generation is the last to master typewriters and rotary dial phones. My teen’s generation will probably be the last to drive an automobile. My peers will be the last to know the parental rite of passage of watching a child back down the driveway and head out on the street for their first solo trip after earning a coveted driver’s license. My toddler cousin will likely never parlay her Little Tike driving skills into steering a full-size car, as self-driving cars will forever change how we transport ourselves from point A to point B.

I heard a recent radio interview where the reporter asked a self-driving car expert whether the public was really ready to give up the experience of driving a vehicle. The response was that the public already has. Stand on any busy street corner and one will see a significant number of passing drivers engaged in activities other than driving, while driving. Driving no longer engages us. Time is the precious commodity, so we preen, text, talk on the phone, drink lattes and eat dinner while driving.

For the most part I am thrilled that self-driving cars are our future. Convincing our elderly mother to stop driving after over 70 years at the wheel was excruciating. Relinquishing one’s license can mean losing independence and self-sufficiency, and becoming socially isolated. As much as I like to drive, my reflexes are slowing and night driving is becoming challenging. I am grateful that self-driving cars will us to stay active, mobile and engaged as we age.

In the meantime, I will instruct my teen in a life skill that will soon be extraneous, while wondering, will a Cozy Coupe still fascinate a toddler who might never witness a parent actually steering the wheel of a car? Is there intrinsic satisfaction in propelling oneself down the sidewalk in a Coupe that will long endure, or will the beloved Cozy Coupe become a casualty of the safety and convenience of self-driving cars?

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Comments

 +  Like this comment
Posted by LJ, a resident of another community,
on Sep 21, 2016 at 6:02 pm

Is virtual reality driving an even bigger threat to the Cozy Coupe? I hope not. In my mind, there will never be any vehicle that beats a shiny blue X-15. It had a joystick (analog) instead of a steering wheel. And if you know what an X-15 is, you are reeeeeally old!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Sep 21, 2016 at 6:22 pm

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Hi LJ,
Thanks for the reminder!
For the uninitiated, the X-15 was a super-cool low-to-the-ground giant-wheeled tricycle that was as responsive as a sports car. It was really fun to ride down a sloped driveway, a feat not recommended for a Cozy Coupe!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Sep 21, 2016 at 7:14 pm

In our family, the Cozy Coupe was known as the Fred Flintstone car.

Think about it.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by PR, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Sep 21, 2016 at 7:26 pm

Thank you for this wonderful blog!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Sep 21, 2016 at 7:31 pm

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Dear Parent,
Thanks for reading and commenting. I absolutely remember Fred Flintstone's floorless car. A remarkable resemblance to the Cozy Coupe!

Hi PR!
Thanks for reading and commenting!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by KH, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive,
on Sep 22, 2016 at 9:08 am

What a great comparison! I hadn't thought about these younger kids and what the future holds for them for driving. As I teach my 15 year old, I realize that I can't give him the experience (yet) of driving a stick shift - or even the clutch of a VW Bug! Driving that to school with a load of schoolmates often ended in giggles as you stalled out. Thank you for also pointing out the benefits for our older population - my 90+ grandmother did not want to give up those keys! And I think that the independence of getting around is what keeps you young.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Sep 22, 2016 at 11:29 am

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Hi KH,
Thanks for reading and commenting!
Driving a manual transmission car is likely something our teens will never do, unless they settle abroad before the self-driving cars are ubiquitous! I took great pride and pleasure in driving a manual transmission when we lived in SF, but quickly switched to an automatic when we started having kids. Not sure I'd still even know how to work a clutch!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Debbie, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Sep 25, 2016 at 9:33 am

Sally,
I always enjoy your beautiful and witty writing! Thank you for entertaining us.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Sep 25, 2016 at 12:55 pm

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Thanks, Debbie!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by JK, a resident of another community,
on Sep 26, 2016 at 3:46 pm

Thank you for sharing this amusing story! I wonder if someday I will push my children in one of those vintage Cozy Coupe cars.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Sep 26, 2016 at 3:56 pm

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Hi JK,
Undoubtedly, that is, if they know what "driving" is! It's been suggested to me that once we are all no longer driving routinely we will go to driving parks just to amuse ourselves by driving around.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Midtown, a resident of Midtown,
on Sep 28, 2016 at 11:16 am

Hurry to your local Mazda dealer and buy a Miata with a 6 speed. Any kid from the 50's would love it. The last of a generation. Pretty soon they will outlaw driving. Period. Too dangerous... Make America Great Again...


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Sep 28, 2016 at 6:02 pm

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Dear Midtown,
As I listen to the traffic reports of multiple accidents every day during commute hours, I think it is great that there will soon be a safer alternative for traveling by car.


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