What is a Frunk?

From portmanteau to selling feature, the frunk is a storage area that’s become more prevalent with the arrival of more EVs.

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It’s not the most elegant of words, but any recent shopper of electric vehicles may have heard the term “frunk” thrown around. Found on newer EVs, the word is a portmanteau, blending “front” and “trunk” in reference to the newfound storage area where an internal-combustion engine would normally reside.

Most gas-powered vehicles place an engine at the front and a trunk at the rear. But frunks aren’t exclusively the domain of electric vehicles. Rear-engine cars like the Porsche 911 may have a front trunk, and mid-engine models such as the Chevrolet Corvette may have trunks at both ends of the vehicle.

Why Do EVs Have Frunks?

EVs have relatively compact electric motors that are significantly smaller than a gas engine and all of its ancillary addendums, like intake and exhaust systems. Many EVs make use of a skateboard-like platform, with electric motors located between the front or rear wheels while the batteries are laid flat between the two axles under the cabin.

This layout has a few key advantages. It lowers the center of gravity of the vehicle and improves handling. It also maximizes the interior and cargo spaces. With fewer powertrain-related components in the front, where an engine is usually located, car designers can provide that extra storage area, now known as the “frunk”.

Frunks Versus Trunks

Not all trunks are equal, and in vehicles with both sets of storage areas, the frunk is usually less spacious than the rear trunk. In the 2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E electric crossover, the frunk offers just 5 cu.-ft. of space, about 16% of the rear cargo area, which measures 30 cu.-ft. Other frunks are even less generous. The Tesla Model 3 features 3 cu.-ft. in its frunk, while the Polestar 2 offers just 1 cu.-ft. in its frunk.

However, electric pickup trucks and SUVs often feature cavernous and capable frunks. The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup sports a power-opening frunk—Ford calls the “Mega Power Frunk”—with 14 cu.-ft. of space. Not only that, the Lightning’s frunk is sturdy enough to hold 400 pounds, has four power outlets, and is water-tight, making it the perfect pickup bed companion. The frunks of both the 2022 Rivian R1T and the 2022 GMC Hummer EV Pickup measure 11 cu.-ft., making these cargo areas nearly as large as the trunk of a small sedan.

Why Don’t All EVs Have Frunks?

However, not all EVs feature a trunk at the front. The 2022 Volkswagen ID.4 compact SUV puts some heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning components under the hood instead of behind the dashboard. This decision should allow for a more spacious cabin and make the HVAC system easier to service. The 2022 BMW iX mid-size luxury SUV packs its electronic controls and components under its hood, while a massive air purifier system under the front hood of the battery-electric 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS luxury sedan eats up the space for a frunk.

We have to admit; the word frunk is a somewhat clumsy portmanteau. And a frunk’s limited capacity means it’s not well suited as a primary storage space. However, when looking for practicality in your next new vehicle, having extra storage space is never a bad thing.

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Sami Haj-Assaad
Sami Haj-Assaad is an award-winning automotive journalist who has contributed to several automotive, electric vehicle, luxury lifestyle, and technology publications. His work isn't just limited to the written word, as he's also hosted YouTube videos and podcasts. Having grown up in the '90s, he has a strong sense of attachment to that era's style, though he also loves to geek out about the modern, futuristic tech and powertrains rolling out today.