Frunks were in spotlight at the Society of Plastics Engineers' Automotive Innovation Awards on Nov. 8, with two different Ford Motor Co. vehicles winning category awards for the storage system and one of them — on the F-150 Lightning — also taking the grand prize.
The frunk has been adopted as the name of a front storage area on electric vehicles where they fill the space previously taken up by an internal combustion engine. (The name is a shortened version of "front trunk.")
The Lightning bin was converted from compression molded SMC to a long-fiber, glass-reinforced polypropylene molded by Cascade Engineering of Grand Rapids, Mich., on a 4,000-ton press. The injection molded part is 48 percent lighter and can be molded 37 percent faster than the previous version. Celanese Corp. supplies the PP and Commercial Tool Group is the mold maker. The part also took the top prize in the Body Interior category.
The frunk on Ford's other high-profile electric car, the Mustang Mach E, took the top prize for sustainability for replacing virgin thermoplastic polyolefin with a TPO from Advanced Composites Inc. made with 20 percent recycled material sourced from yogurt cups and packaging materials. The one-piece part also eliminates two metal brackets, cutting 3 kilograms. IAC Group injection molds the frunk with tools from HS Inc.
Other awards went to:
• General Motors Co. for a hybrid battery interconnect board in the aftermarket and specialty vehicle category.
• Rivian LLC took the body exterior part category with a thermoplastic split gate rear closure system.
• GM for the battery disconnect unit on the GMC Hummer EV in the electric and autonomous vehicle category.
• GM won for materials for the use of RTP Co. fire-resistant polymer on the sideplates of the battery module on the Corvette E-Ray.
• The process/assembly/enabling technologies category went to Toyota for a seat module used on the Toyota Grand Highlander.
• GM took the safety category for intumescent terminal covers that can reduce the risk of thermal runaway on the Cadillac Lyriq and GMC Hummer.
• The vehicle engineering team award went to GM's 2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray.