No matter the lifestyle, vehicle storage is a must-have for the average person. As the automotive industry continues to rapidly evolve, conventional vehicle design elements, such as the engine being at the front of the car, are quickly going away. With new vehicle designs come new opportunities to meet the needs of consumers. In many new electric cars, there is no longer the need to accommodate the traditional front-mounted engine and auxiliary components. This compartment is now being made available for cargo and is commonly known as a Frunk (front trunk). While this storage element is not entirely new, more and more vehicles are being designed with this feature.
“The frunk is similar to the trunk in the way that it offers consumers accessible and flexible storage space,” said Ken Kernen, LyondellBasell, new business development manager for Automotive. “This innovative under hood storage has to be designed with materials that deliver both structural integrity for heavy loads and have proper impact resistance for a wide range of end uses and temperature extremes.”
Most frunk designs require scratch and mar characteristics to keep the space free from scuffs and damage, maintaining superior aesthetics. Frunk designs also feature protective trim covers, sometimes using soft components or sealing functionality from environmental elements.
With a diverse portfolio of engineered polymers, LyondellBasell offers automotive Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) a variety of material solutions for unique “front trunk” storage designs. LyondellBasell’s Hifax, Hostacom, and Invision materials help create the frunk “bin,” trim and covers, as well as the seals and hiders that make frunk storage units possible.
The frunk bin requires characteristics such as durability, dimensional stability, and molded-in-color capabilities. LyondellBasell’s Hifax and Hostacom thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) compounds help meet these design needs by offering excellent stiffness and impact performance over a wide temperature range, along with premium aesthetics.
The frunk’s trim and cover components must harmonize in appearance to the bin and other exterior components, and are also subject to frequent user contact. These parts require high-scratch and mar performance to deliver durability and excellent aesthetics. The Hostacom portfolio offers cost-effective solutions not only to meet customer demand, but can also be custom color matched.
Lastly, seals and gap hiders are often used with the frunk trim to ensure the support and functionality of the storage piece. These components are integral for water management, provide exposure protection, and allow for hood support mechanisms to operate. Soft materials, such as thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) like Invision from LyondellBasell, provide good abrasion resistance, tear strength, and chemical resistance, giving these seals a wide range of flexibility and hardness as needed.
These solutions are just a few examples of how LyondellBasell can help automotive OEMs make their creative designs, like the frunk, possible.