BMW i3 – What The Frunk?


The front storage compartment (Frunk) of my i3 after driving a few weeks on the salt-covered winter roads of New Jersey - yuck!

The front storage compartment (Frunk) of my i3 after driving a few weeks on the salt-covered winter roads of New Jersey – yuck!

First, let me begin by saying I was one of the people who really didn’t mind the fact that the i3’s front storage compartment (affectionately called the “frunk” by many since Tesla initially coined the term for the area under the hood of the Model S) wasn’t waterproof. I never envisioned keeping anything up there that I would need to access frequently and since my Electronaut Edition i3 came with a nice storage bag that would keep whatever I put in there nice and dry, it was really a non-issue as far as I was concerned.

It looked a little better when I first got the car. Of course everything looks better new, but being exposed to all the elements means you really can't store anything up there that isn't waterproof & durable

It looked a little better when I first got the car. Of course everything looks better new, but being exposed to all the elements means you really can’t store anything up there that isn’t waterproof & durable

It was so inconsequential to me at the time I didn’t even list it as a minor annoyance when I did my initial likes & dislikes posts back in June. Well after living with the car for nine months now, I have some different perspectives and I think I’ll soon go back and do an update on what I like and don’t like about the i3. One of the things I’ll add to the dislike list is the fact that the frunk area is easily penetrated by moisture, dirt, leaves and anything else that would find its way under the hood of a traditional ICE car.

*Editor’s Note: This post appears on Tom’s blog.  Check it out here.

Leaves can make their way into the frunk also, as found out by BMW i3 Facebook group member, Michal Cierniak

Leaves can make their way into the frunk also, as found out by BMW i3 Facebook group member, Michal Cierniak

So why didn’t BMW make this area waterproof? I have never gotten an official answer but my guess is because it would add weight and cost. Plus, since it is such a small compartment, they figured the vast majority of people would only use it for things like extension cords, a tool kit and the occasional use EVSE, all of which are OK to get wet once in a while. They probably also figured most people would get a bag to put those items in, and they even sell one such as the one that I have. Because I have an Electronaut Edition i3, mine was free and embroidered “Electronaut Edition.” It keeps the items in the bag clean and dry, but the bag itself gets very dirty and isn’t really pleasant to handle when it’s covered in dust and now road salt.






                                                                Which one would you prefer to handle?

The i3 has a lot of mechanical components up in the frunk area; they are just hidden by the removable screens on both sides of the frunk. Once you remove these snap on screens, you can see that area looks basically like a traditional ICE engine compartment, minus the engine of course. The storage compartment only occupies a small section of that area as opposed to the Model S. Since the Model S is so much larger than the i3, Tesla was able to utilize a huge portion of the area under the hood for storage, creating a large front trunk which they called the frunk and still have enough room to fit whatever mechanical parts they located up there. The i3 didn’t have much space to spare since the front area of the car is so small, so the storage compartment seems like more of an afterthought than something that was a well planned design feature.

After removing the plastic frunk, and the snap-on shields on both sides of it, what you see looks very similar to a conventional gasoline or diesel powered car (minus the engine!) Photo credit: Tim Hood

After removing the plastic frunk, and the snap-on shields on both sides of it, what you see looks very similar to a conventional gasoline or diesel powered car (minus the engine!) Photo credit: Tim Hood

If waterproofing the entire area up there just wasn’t cost effective, or if it was going to add too much weight, then I do understand the reasoning, but what they should have done was provide a nice frunk cover that could snap on and provide – at the very least – a water-resistant seal. Perhaps some ingenious entrepreneur will manufacture and sell such a cover…

* If you want to use my car as the mold you know where to find me, and I’ll be your first customer 😉

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43 Comments on "BMW i3 – What The Frunk?"

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Moist Frunk Syndrome. 🙁

You might want to see your doctor about that.

That’s the way it’s supposed to be if you’re treating here right 😉

What’s even more interesting is the secret compartment in the boot. In the i3 BEV, there’s quite a sizeable bin that stores the tools and tire sealant where the REx engine should be.

That’s what I saw in one video, perhaps you should show it, Tom, I hardly heard anything of it.

Good idea but…

1. Those examples are WAY too big to fit in the i3’s frunk.

2. Those boxes are not waterproof either. They have handles on both ends that snap down, but the sides aren’t sealed well. If they put a gasket and handles around the entire box, it would be better. (We keep our Christmas ornaments and decorations in one, so I know they’re not waterproof.)

Only BMW drivers would find this acceptable… It’s not like you store your EVSE in there or something…

It seems like a little more rubber on the hood and this whole issue would be solved. Such a shame they obviously never *really* tested this with leaves and water so easily getting into it.

That’s what I was thinking… or some foam. It wouldn’t have added any weight.

Note the i8 also has a trash receptacle in the hood. And it has no cover over it at all.

Does the frunk at least have a drain hole? Your first picture looks like spray was getting in there. What if an i3 owner drives during a very rainy spring and summer?

I think the answer is a new box with a sealed lid.
Our company is working on such a solution, and hope to have a prototype out within two weeks.

All aluminum(6061-T6), powder coated, hinged top, water resistant.

Six bolts to remove the old plastic, flimsy and leaking original. Five minutes max.

You’ll be able to store your JESLA portable charge cable and a JLong extension cord in a dedicated compartment, plus the original tow hook.

Of course, a light needs to go up there! What features would you like to see?

Will it be called the Jbox or Jfrunk?

ToTo Box

Tony, The Answer in My View, is.., Buy A different Car .

Will the box be designed to collapse in case of an accident, since it is in the crumple zone?

I think BMW didn’t actually want people to use their Frunk on purpose, so what people stored in the i3 Frunk wouldn’t become an issue in a collision. Fewer variables for them to calculate.

Everything collapses in a collision!

No, we won’t be crash testing BMW i3s to find out how much.

One thing that needs to be said over and over is:

DON’T STORE GASOLINE IN THE FRUNK!!! That could be suicide in the making.

You know someone will do it or is already doing it.


Yep. An entire thread on how to store gas there. Idiots.

Well, if BMW put in a decent sized fuel tank this wouldn’t be necessary.

I originally praised the i3, but the more I learn the less I like. I can’t remember a car that combines clever and stupid in such a silly way. Imagine having a covered storage area that collects garbage and dirty water. What were they thinking?

Tony, if everything really did collapse the same in a collision, there would be no such thing as engineered crumple zones. I do like the idea of aftermarket parts that improve the i3, and a waterproof frunk is a great idea. So please take my comments as the positive constructive input that they are intended to be. The feature I’m requesting is a very safe waterproof frunk. If it isn’t engineered to crumple, the parts that are engineered to crumple will crumple, and this box might or might not crumple. That could end up with this box intruding into BMW’s “LifeDrive Passenger Cell”, intruding into lower leg space and/or displacing the dash. Neither of which would improve the safety rating (enough said). Since I don’t know exactly what you are building, I’m going to speculate wildly. So take the next bit as purely an exercise in speculative analysis. I picture something over-engineered, like 0.16 plate 6061-T6 Alcoa with a Brinell hardness of 95. T6 hardening is pretty strong stuff, especially along the x-axis, which is why bicycle frames are made with T6. Forces into the face of the plate can easily bend it, but this material is very strong against… Read more »

I do appreciate your comments, and I had to snicker a bit here:

>>>0.16 plate 6061-T6 Alcoa with a Brinell hardness of 95 <<<<

That might be more rigid than the WHOLE car!!! I mentioned 6061-T6, because I have some. We would not attempt to bend hardened product (I was just planning to MIG weld that 6061) and the production piece would likely be 5052, bent in a "break".

I ultimately just used cardboard to mock it up. Simple. Now, for some computer time, and we will cut metal tomorrow.

As to crumple, yes, it is very easy to incorporate, which in itself is a bit odd. The six tiny little screws that hold this thing in have no structural strength, so the thing is going flying anyway. The actual integrity of the box will be FAR less than the carbon / resin / plastic structure.

Don't worry, ieverything will crunch just fine. What people put in it might not, however.


Here’s a better recommendation: DON’T BUY A BMW i3!


Very good. It looks like we are thinking along the same wavelength. My mental exorcize would indeed be more rigid than the crumple zone of the car. Thanks for the conversation.

The more I learn about the i3, the more convinced I am that I really don’t want one. Just need to hold out another 2+ years until Tesla 3.

Let me be perhaps the 1,000th person to observe that if this non-feature appeared on a Leaf or Focus EV or Volt or any other EV/PHEV, that vehicle and the company that designed it would be condemned for crappy engineering, among other things.

Between the REX-mode hill performance and this silliness, I really wonder how much longer BMW’s golden (or is it blue and white?) aura can sustain them with one car model.

Honestly, I’m glad that the i3 is priced the way it is, as that puts it just high enough I’m not tempted to try to rationalize buying/leasing one. There’s a lot to like about the vehicle, but more and more this feels like a bun that needed a bit more time in the oven.

+1. It’s weird and embarrassing that they missed an issue this basic.

A clear mistake indeed, especially since it only takes a rubber joint to solve it. I hope they fix that to on a potential i5.

Lou, Buy One & It’ll Be More Like Getting In Between The “Buns”. 0therwise known As, Getting it in the “The Bunner” l m a o

THE “FRUNK” This Must Be A JOKE! l m a o .. ..What Unbelievable Shoddy Engineering & Workmanship.A true Embarrassment To ALL! & A True “BM” The WURKS or is it Werks… cheers all

Tools, cables, no matter what quality, should be left wet or covered in salt residue for extended periods. BMW should seal this compartment.

Maybe they can make a tupperware kinda lid for it? Probably not.


adjective \ˈfrəŋ-kē\

1 : Having an offensive state due to long-term storage in the frunk.

A Frunky Frunked Up Frunk ….Say That Real Fast 5 X’s ….l m a o

Sorry… but Tesla did not coin the term “frunk”. Back in the day when I was very active in the MR2 community that was the standard term for the modest front storage space in all three generations of the car. Now, I won’t say the MR2 community coined the term either but we were using back before Elon made his first billion 🙂

Oh… and the frunks on the MR2 are nicely sealed as well 🙂 That is just a rust problem waiting to happen on the BMW (Yes, I know the body is composite but there has to be some steel and copper under that hood somewhere)

“P1B”… I like it 🙂

Not that I can see!

Even aluminum can corrode in salt(y) water.

Matt..With all That Pony Poop There is Bound To Be a Pony Somewhere in there…What A POS They Call a Car BMW Has Come Up With…I can Only Imagine The Other Mistakes In this Contraption…………God Bless This Mess…

Wow, I don’t think that would be something I’d like to have to deal with at the I3’s price point especially! This is not 1960. As far as I know the Corvair had no such sealing issues in it’s “Frunk” or how about the VW Beetle it too had a Frunk.This is clearly a FAIL!

My ’76 type 1 Fuel Injected Bug had a frunk. It wasn’t big by any means, but it *WAS* watertight.

That’s why I believe, VW would have approached the frontal storage design differently in an EV, due to their own product design history.

So I don’t think it’s necessarily hubris that made BMW skimp on their Frunk– they just didn’t have the design history to make it a priority to seal / weatherize it. “Giving” you another storage space up front where an engine normally was in their older cars, was for them, a big “innovative” extra. Thoughtfulness of implementation for the user actually storing things in it, was unfortunately secondary.

Like Apple, a cultish following can be blinded to the stuff that the rest of us would be screaming at. The photos here demonstrate some COMPLETELY slipshod attention to detail by BMW.

Does anyone remember the early 80s when the Detroit ‘big 3’ got so smug that they thought the public would accept pieces of folded over cardboard as a glove box??? Anyone seeing these photos should be reminded of that and look well beyond BMW; these folks are too smug to bother buying a car from.

The real cult group is the anti-Apple brigade. Like the ones who feel the need to insult Apple’s customers in totally unrelated car-blogs.

I think BMW should be embarrassed over this! Red faced enough to figure out a solution and retro-fit all i3s sold to date!