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Is Your Junk in the Trunk or the 'Frunk'?

Frunk
The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E's holds a surprise under the hood — a drainable front trunk storage unit, or frunk, with plenty of space to hold a cooler or several small carry-on luggage bags. Ford Motor Company

If you've never driven an electric car or a classic British or German sports car, you might never have heard of a "frunk." But you should probably get used to the idea because 2021 models from American automakers like Chevrolet and Ford now are sporting frunks instead of trunks.

A portmanteau of "front" and "trunk," a frunk is pretty much what it sounds like — a cool little storage spot under a car's front hood where most of us are used to seeing an engine and its associated mechanical bits. They're traditionally associated with sports cars, which often position the engine in the back, where a trunk would otherwise go, for better weight distribution and other feats of performance-oriented engineering.

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The Volkswagen Beetle is probably the best-known and most common frunk-endowed car of all time, but there are plenty of others. Recent examples include the Audi R8 sports car, BMW i3 electric hatchback, Jaguar I-Pace electric crossover, perennial favorite Porsche 911 and the electric Tesla lineup, as well as exotic rear- and mid-engine Bugatti, Lamborghini and McLaren models.

But we're likely to see a lot more frunks in the coming years, even if we aren't likely to see quite as many new sports cars. Here are a couple of examples.

The all-new 2020 Corvette's much-talked-about mid-engine design has benefits beyond its performance, and the frunk is a fun one. The Corvette's engineers managed to squeeze a small trunk behind the coupe's engine, though that will presumably be most often used to store the car's removable targa top. That leaves the frunk as the more practical of the two, and though it's also small, it can reportedly accommodate a carry-on.

Of course, the Corvette name provides plenty of additional branding (and profit) opportunities, so if you want official coordinating luggage designed to fit perfectly in the frunk, Chevrolet is happy to accommodate you with a set of bags, admittedly on the small side. Seasoned 'Vette drivers are probably accustomed to traveling light, anyway.

The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E's highly publicized Super Bowl campaign showed a bunch of football fans gathered around the Mach-E's frunk, which Ford says has the capacity of a 36-gallon (136-liter) cooler — as well as a plastic lining and a handy drain plug at the bottom so it can actually be filled up with ice and easily cleaned out. Of course, no one's going to buy a car for this reason alone.

The Mustang Mach-E is a fully electric crossover (rather than an actual Mustang sports car) that was introduced in late 2019 and will be available in late 2020. The reason the Mach-E gets a frunk as well as the rear cargo space typically found in a crossover's tailgate is because this vehicle is powered by an all-new electric powertrain. The battery setup is engineered right into the Mach-E's platform, and it powers electric motors that are fixed right on the car's axles; one in the back for rear-wheel drive models, and a second motor up front for those who prefer all-wheel drive.

The Chevy Corvette's always a crowd-pleaser, but the Ford Mustang Mach-E is a better representation of the auto industry's future, and as electric cars become more common, we're likely to see a lot more frunks.

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