On a family road trip in her family's Honda Odyssey, she lamented there was no vacuum cleaner aboard to clean up spilled food. Her father, a Honda engineer, brought the idea to the company's development team.
Three years later, it has come to fruition. Honda has installed a vacuum cleaner in the Touring Elite trim level of its 2013 Odyssey, due at dealerships this summer.
Car enthusiasts attending the auto show may shrug their shoulders at this unglamorous advancement, but if you've ever cleaned crushed Cheerios from the floor mats of a car, you know parents everywhere will rejoice. It's a practical accessory in the ultimate practical family hauler.
Housed in a small compartment on the left side of the trunk, the black hose can reach the front of the car. It has an on-off switch and a one-gallon collection receptacle underneath. It couldn't be simpler to use.
"We didn't want to make it unusually complicated," said Kerry McClure, large project leader for Honda, who supervised the vacuum project and worked with partner Shop Vac.
The vacuum runs for eight minutes off the car's battery and uses 36 amps of power. It can run continuously when the engine is running. "It's significantly more powerful than any hand-held vacuum," he said, demonstrating its prowess by vacuuming up an assortment of Froot Loops spread throughout the trunk.
There's another family-friendly update on the Odyssey. Previously, the lift gate needed to be manually opened. Now, it can be operated with a lift-gate sensor that provides power opening and closing.
At the Touring Elite trim level, the Odyssey costs $44,000.