In Detroit where I'm from, it's not hard to find people who have been through multiple love affairs…with their cars. Some have been exciting, fulfilling, disappointing, and in a few cases, downright heartbreaking.
We celebrate the automobile here in the Motor City. Annual events, steeped in tradition, such as the North American International Auto Show as well as the Woodward Dream Cruise draw millions of avid car-lovers from around the U.S. and the world.
And so it's a logical extension that many people don't just buy, enjoy, and maintain their vehicles.
Many treat their cars like pets. They talk to them, pet them, and even give them names.
Cars and trucks can become personal, and that's especially evident when people bestow a name on their vehicles. Now, a new UK research study tells us something we didn't know:
Baby boomers are most likely to name their cars.
Starts At 60 reports on the research conducted by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA, the equivalent of the DMV here in the States). It turns out more than a quarter of UK drivers personalize their vehicles with a name.
Boomers (55-72 year-olds) and women are most likely to give their cars the human touch with a name. And just like the way people treat pets, many purchase personalized license plates to display these names. And in the UK, the most popular names are auctioned off.
Consider that some wealthy (or extremely obsessed) Brit paid £7,000 for the plate reading HER 81E.
Among the most common names?
Doris, Dave, Henry, Betsy, Bumble, and The Beast.
So, it makes you wonder how these human-to-machine relationships will change in the coming years as more autonomous vehicles hit the roads. When consumers no longer own their own vehicles, what will become of this practice of naming them?
While the self-driving revolution (if that actually comes to fruition) could change the ways in which we get from Point A to Point B, will cars simply devolve into impersonal machines like toaster ovens, elipticals, and washing machines?
And maybe car makers, technology companies, and municipalities that unveil these autonomous cars will actually help consumers warm up to the idea of cars that drive themselves by naming them.
After all, we know the practice isn't exactly uncommon. It helps to personalize technology, especially when it replaces something that was once truly personal.
And as we're fast learning with smart speakers, the idea of a persona helping technology become mass appeal has a history.
It has to explain part of the reason why the name “Alexa” has become synonymous with this technology, because “Hey, Google” simply lacks that personal touch.
In literature, TV, and movies, we've given names to robots, from Robby who starred in the seminal 1950's sci-fi film, “Forbidden Planet,” to Rosie on “The Jetsons,” and the infamous HAL in “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
As competing forces rush to perfect autonomous technology, perhaps an early leader will emerge that has the foresight to actually name its vehicle.
For a tidy sum, “Herbie” is available.
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,200 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.
Fred was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2018.