Many great automotive inventors and innovators are enshrined in the Automotive Hall of Fame. Their work has advanced the industry's technology to the benefit of all mankind.
In some corners of the industry the names Gottlieb Daimler, Boss Kettering, Albert DeDion and other engineering pioneers are spoken with the deepest reverence. Soon, another engineer will join those giants because he has solved one of this era's greatest automotive design challenges.
Forget cupholders, gloveboxes, map pockets and under-seat storage bins. When it comes to comfort and convenience, they're just so common.
That's because Volkswagen's new Passat has a slot in the driver's door panel where you can store an optional umbrella that's big enough for two.
So what, you say?
Well get this, you can put the umbrella away wet because there is a drain in the door.
It's the brainchild of German engineer Wilfried Bockelman.
Bockelman has been obsessed with the concept ever since he was head of engineering at VW's Skoda subsidiary, according to Automotive News Europe.
At Skoda, he was only able to put an umbrella slot in the rear door of a sedan. But when he transferred to VW engineering in Wolfsburg, he brought his idea with him. And the new Passat was his chance to change automotive history.
If and when April showers ever get here, anyone who has ever been soaked trying to lower an umbrella and put it away without getting the inside of the car wet will appreciate Bockelman's contribution to the betterment of all mankind, or at least to the betterment of interior upholstery.
Maybe we should just induct him into the Automotive Hall of Fame now and avoid the rush later.
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at