Do You Have Junk In Your Frunk?

Are you ready for your first question? Let's go! For $500, which item would you most likely find in a frunk? 1) Ham sandwich; 2) Swimming pool; 3) Tire inflator; 4) Home theater.

Before we answer the question, we should establish that the term “frunk” is a portmanteau of “front” and “trunk,” in other words, a bit of emptiness in the front of a vehicle. For example, the Porsche 911 and Boxster/Cayman have had frunks for many years, the former being rear-engined and the latter being mid-engined. More recently, Teslas and other EVs have popularized the term for their front cargo area.

The frunks in some EVs are barely large enough to hold a box of tissues. Others are large enough to accommodate one or two byproducts of a mob hit. Seeking to capitalize on this opportunity (large frunks, not mob hits), Ford has recently patented a novel way to fill the frunky void.

Behold the birth of the frunk TV option. In particular, feast your eyes on U.S. Patent 11,960,198 B2, April 16, 2024, Harmon et al., Front Trunk Including Screen for Displaying Images or Video.

As noted in the patent, the screen makes the front trunk “more usable for worksites, tailgating events, etc.” In one embodiment, the screen is designed to deploy upward from a housing. Nifty, perhaps even impressive. Alternatively, the patent describes a retractable screen and an overhead projector. All in all, I can think of worse things to put in a frunk Admittedly, when I fill up my ICE car at a gas station, I rarely think to myself, “Gee, I wish I could watch a big-screen TV for three minutes.” On the other hand, if I was hanging around a charging station for an hour, a folding chair and a frunk-mounted TV might not be a bad thing.

The patent optimistically advises that screens could be placed in “vehicles other than electrified vehicles that include front trunks, such as mid-engined or rear-engined vehicles.” When I order my next 911, I'm not sure I will click on the TV option.

So, when will this TV option be coming to a Ford F-150 Lightning near you? If I had to guess, I'd say the answer is “never.” Remember that last shot in Raiders of the Lost Ark? That vast warehouse of packing crates? Unfortunately, that's where many patents end up. Companies file patents almost as fast as EVs depreciate. Many patents are deemed to offer insufficient commercial return. Some patents are meant only to block a competitor from using the idea. Only a lucky few move forward to fruition. In this case, given an anticipated low take-rate, it might not be economically viable for Ford to develop a frunk TV. Still, there might be hope. Ford could license the patent to a niche aftermarket company.

My answer is: 3) Tire inflator. Is that your final answer? Yes. You are correct! Next question! For $1,000, which of these is your least favorite thing? 1) A poke in the eye with a sharp stick; 2) Running naked through barbed wire ; 3) Dipping your hand in molten lava; 4) Reading a Signals blog.

Don't answer that question.

COMMENTS
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