A cardboard box found a new lease on life after being recruited by Ford to help develop a new feature known as the Mega Power Frunk. The all-electric 2022 https://electricdrives.tv/post/discover-ev-introduces-the-uks-first-free-digital-automotive-marketplace-for-electrified-vehiclespick-up’s new front trunk or, as it’s known in the industry “frunk”, is the largest in the truck industry.
The F-150 Lightning is Ford’s new version of the F-150, which is the best selling truck in the US. Without the need for an internal combustion engine (ICE), the F-150 Lightning’s frunk offers 400 litres (14.1 cubic feet) of cargo space with a maximum payload capacity of 400 pounds.
This along with a range of up to 300 miles (483km) make it one of those most useable electric pick-ups on the market. This electric vehicle (EV) is already proving so popular that Ford plans to double its production target ahead of its launch next year.
Linda Zhang, Ford F-150 Lightning chief program engineer, said: “The F-150 Lightning pickup’s Mega Power Frunk is one of those features that reshape what vehicles can provide for customers.
“It’s sheer size, ample power supply, drainable floor and open and close system that opens with the touch of a button make it frunking awesome.”
What many don’t know is this spacious and dynamic space began life as a simple cardboard box with a cutout front door and a liftable hood. It began back in February 2018 with Team Edison who are Ford’s dedicated battery electric vehicles incubator that incorporates close collaboration between different teams to find solutions to customer needs.
A small group of young user experience designers set out to California, where they sat down with actual Ford truck and fleet customers to talk about how they might use such a feature.
The prototype, made of cardboard for simplicity and cost and built in about a day using scissors and glue, was brought to every meeting to help customers visualise the opportunity.
In the studio, Greg Ardisana, Ford design director, and other Team Edison research members worked as consultants alongside engineering and design whenever they had customer use questions. This led to a close-knit collaboration between groups.
Greg Ardisana, Ford design director, said: “Since the frunk was a new space, all the truck customers we interacted with got really excited about what it could be and what use they could get out of it in their daily lives. We needed to take what they wanted and find a way to deliver on it.”
Truck customers imagined fitting not one, but two golf bags, even when it wasn’t a golf day. The additional permanent storage keeps valuables out of sight, is lockable and secure.
Fleet owners saw their crews using the space to haul bags of concrete and charge their electric tools at construction sites. Customers also wanted lights to see at night, electric outlets, a work surface and optimised access height to make the space truly usable.
All of these valuable insights were derived from a simple piece of cardboard. The team treated it like a cooler box that needed to be durable and easy to clean, and have a rubberised floor with anti-slide properties. Once the frunk fit the main shell, finding ways to add all of the features on the customer wish list was the next hurdle.
Lighting began as typical trunk lighting. It was functional, but the “wow” factor was missing. So the team pivoted and installed truck bed lamps in the frunk hood. The lamps offered a lighting source on the inner side of the hood, which prevented cargo from blocking lights and did away with unwanted glare and shadowing of the load area.
Four electrical outlets and two USB chargers were added to provide versatility for work and play. It has 2.4 kilowatts of power are available for everything from TVs to laptops, speakers to crockpots, power tools and other devices. Customers can even fill it with ice and drinks since it’s water-resistant, cleanable and has a drainable floor.
The Mega Power Frunk has a powered open and close system with six different ways to open it. This includes using a phone with the FordPass app, as well as through an integrated push-button on the grille.
The 2022 F-150 Lightning pick-up will be available starting Spring 2022.