One of the real eye-openers with electric vehicles can be how much more space there is to work with.
Without the hulking internal combustion engine, the big multi-speed, multi-clutch transmission under the hood, exhaust system, the fuel tank and fuel pumps, and all the ancillary pieces, an EV can feel far more spacious on the inside than an otherwise similarly sized gasoline vehicle.
Some automakers, like Tesla, have—in lieu of radically revisiting the proportions given to vehicles—decided to funnel all the extra space under the hood into something useful: the front trunk, or frunk.
Ford put out a release this past week that the frunk of the Mustang Mach-E electric SUV, which goes on sale later this year, is designed to be a cooler, with an integral drain.
It could be quite the party trick for football tailgating. “Just fill the front trunk with ice and beverages and cruise right up to your tailgate,” explains Ford, in a release. “When you’re done, open the drain cap at the bottom of the front trunk and let gravity do the rest.”
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E frunk with food
Or, it suggests, you can put other savory/greasy foods—like 1,000 hot wings—in the compartment and simply hose it off with the help of the drain.
It’s hard to deny the effectiveness of the tailgate-party trick, but not everyone is convinced they’re actually good use of space—or that they represent designing for the potential of EVs. Nissan VP of global design Alfonso Albaisa, in an interview with Green Car Reports last month, said that he sees frunks as amounting to a wasted opportunity.
“The HVAC [heating and air conditioning], all the guts that used to live in the cabin, we shoved them in the engine bay, which has no engine,” said Alfonso Albaisa, regarding its upcoming electric crossover, closely previewed by the Nissan Ariya Concept first shown in the U.S. last month at CES. “Actually if you open the hood on Ariya, it’s full of stuff; that’s what’s given us this completely open cabin.”
Nissan Ariya Concept - CES 2020
“What happens with a frunk is it forces you to have some conventional things; you need a center console…because all the HVAC and everything has to come back into the cabin,” he explained. “It’s a natural evolution of the automobile and we should leverage it completely.”
“Even though my competitors have really highly wonderful cars, you open the door and there’s not much evidence that it’s an EV,” Albaisa added. “You open Ariya and you say, okay there’s something different, where is everything?”
Just, where are the shrimp?
As an EV shopper or enthusiast, what’s your take on this? Should electric cars make some radical changes for the largest possible cabin, or do you think that the extra frunk space is actually the better selling point for EVs? Let us know what you think in your comments below.