DETROIT — Honda wants to sweep up the minivan competition with its unique built-in vacuum cleaner, telling Edmunds that the demand for the feature is so strong that it is in the process of determining whether to offer the feature on most, if not all, future Honda Odyssey minivans.
A likely time frame for expanding availability of the vacuum cleaner is late next year when the redesigned 2017 Odyssey minivan goes on sale, industry analysts say.
"We get a lot of questions (about the built-in vacuum cleaner)," Jenny Gilger, vice president of Honda product planning, told Edmunds in a recent interview. "I think a lot of customers would love to have it as an accessory."
The vacuum originally rolled out as a standard feature on the top-of-the-line 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite. For the 2016 model year, it is also featured on the new 2016 Odyssey Special Edition, which is on sale now at Honda dealerships. The Special Edition model is priced at $34,255, including an $880 destination charge.
The 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite minivan with the vacuum won a 2014 VIP or "Very Innovative Products" award from Good Housekeeping.
The big advantage of Odyssey's built-in vacuum cleaner, called Honda-Vac, is that it quickly cleans up Cheerios and other kids' stuff, whether the family is at home, camping or at the beach. There is no need to lug a vacuum cleaner out of the house and attach an extension cord to an outlet in the garage. The entire system is built into the rear of the minivan on the driver's side.
Gilger said a built-in vacuum cleaner requires special wiring that runs to the back of the minivan and several unique interior panels, both adding cost to the installation. The Odyssey uses a Shop-Vac vacuum cleaner that was co-developed with Honda. The system comprises an electric motor, replaceable filter, canister bag, nozzles and a hose.
Gilger said the built-in vacuum cleaner will be offered in lower-priced models "if we can make it work," presumably at an attractive price point.
There have been industry rumblings that the redesigned 2017 Town & Country may offer a built-in vacuum cleaner. That minivan will arrive at Chrysler dealerships next year.
Edmunds says: Cleanliness is high on their wish lists. That's what minivan shoppers are telling Honda.