Tami Giammarco, senior. engineer for Honda, shows off the vacuum in the rear of a new Honda Odyssey minivan.
(Photo: Robert Deutsch/ USA TODAY)
NEW YORK -- An automaker thinks it has finally solved the problem that has dogged family vehicles since the dawn the automotive age: an easy way to get rid of all the junk that drops between the seats.
Honda is bringing what it says is the industry's first vacuum cleaner to 2014 Odyssey minivan, which will be displayed here at the New York Auto Show opening this week.
The small HondaVAC, as its being called, is built into the minivan's rear well. It is meant to be an easy solution to the bane of parents everywhere who have seen the accumulation grow after any long car trip -- tiny tiny mountains of stray french fries, straw wrappers, pennies and Skittles from stem to stern.
The most obvious of all minivan options grew out of the idea of a single engineer who came back from a trip with his kids frustrated about the garbage that accumulated in the family vehicle, says Tami Giammarco, a Honda senior engineer in Ohio.
"We found it would have a lot of value to our customers," she says. So the team started scouting gas stations and car washes to figure out the secrets of the best auto vacs.
The result was a small unit with a hose long enough to reach the entire minivan cabin. It comes with two heads, a wide one and a narrow one for crevices. In a test run by USA TODAY with a variety of junk food, the vac easily sucked up Froot Loops cereal but choked with it came to Cheetos. They were too long and had to be crunched up a bit in order to make them easier for the vac to digest.
When the refreshed Odysseybgoes on sale this summer, the vac will be standard equipment in the fanciest version, the Touring Elite. It has not been determined which other versions it will be available in, or its price.
"It's another differentiator for us," says Mike Accavitti, a Honda senior vice president in the U.S. It could be a godsend for parents who know "goldfish, taco chips" and other stuff tends to "all end up on the floor."
Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY