The mid-engine 2020 Corvette was a clean sheet redesign and Chevy’s designers and engineers are doing many firsts on the car. It’s obviously the first time the long-running sportscar has had a “frunk”, or front trunk for storage as the engine is now behind the driver.
Comparing how the frunk opens to previous generations’ front hoods, all previous Corvette models featured the hood with hinges at the front of the car, while the C8’s frunk has its hinges close to the windshield to allow easier access to the storage area. With the hinges on the front of the hood on previous models, the opportunity for the hood to fly open while driving is statistically null. Yet, already we are hearing multiple reports on the forums of the C8 frunk’s hood releasing without warning while driving, with the hood flying up and blocking the vision of drivers.
Check out this video on YouTube and you can see it happen while the car is in motion:
Currently, two complaints have been filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) detailing the owner’s incidents.
The first report is dated April 11th and the owner describes the incident that took place:
WHILE DRIVING THE 2020 CORVETTE AT A LOW SPEED, THE FRONT HOOD FLEW OPEN AND IMPAIRED MY VISIBILITY. THIS IS CHEVROLET’S FIRST ATTEMPT AT A MID-ENGINE CAR. SO THE FRONT HOOD IS ACTUALLY A TRUCK [sic]. THEY FAILED TO ENGINEER THE APPROPRIATE SAFETY LATCH FEATURES INTO THE HOOD THAT WOULD PREVENT THIS FROM HAPPENING. HOODS ARE REQUIRED TO HAVE A SECONDARY LATCH THAT MUST BE PHYSICALLY OPERATED TO OPEN COMPLETELY.
The second incident happened on April 30th and it’s a similar story to the one above:
THE 2020 CHEVROLET CORVETTE IS TRULY A UNIQUE LOOKING AUTOMOBILE AND IT ATTRACTS ATTENTION EVERYWHERE YOU GO. ALMOST EVERYBODY WANTS TO LOOK AT IT. ON 04/30/2020, I WAS AT A LOCAL SHOPPING CENTER AND SEVERAL PEOPLE WERE ADMIRING THE CAR AND LOOKING AT IT. THE VEHICLE WAS SITTING STATIONARY IN A PARKING SPACE, THE ENGINE WAS RUNNING AND THE VEHICLE WAS IN PARK. WHEN THE PEOPLE HAD FINISHED ADMIRING THE CAR, I GOT INTO IT AND PROCEEDED TO THE EXIT. FROM THE EXIT, I TURNED ONTO THE MAIN ROAD (A US DESIGNATED HWY) AND ACCELERATED. WHEN I REACHED A SPEED OF APPROXIMATELY 25 TO 30 MPH, THE FRONT HOOD (ALSO CALLED A FRUNK), FLEW UP AND COMPLETELY BLOCKED MY VISION OF THE ROADWAY. I WAS ABLE TO SUCCESSFULLY BRAKE AND PULL TO THE SHOULDER OF THE HIGHWAY WITHOUT FURTHER INCIDENT.
THE “FRUNK” HOOD COMPLETELY BLOCKED MY VISION OF THE ROADWAY AND DAMAGE WAS DONE TO THE HINGES, HOOD AND FENDER ON THE DRIVER’S SIDE.
And that’s just the two NHTSA reports. A member of the MidEngineCorvetteForum.com also details his experience with the frunk suddenly opening in early June:
Well now it’s happened to me. Left home and going quite slowly – 50 klicks max (30 MPH) and the hood flew up. Quickly pulled over and closed it. On getting back home I see all kinds of misalignment with some interference between the edge of the hood and fender that’s left a ding in the edge of the hood. I’ve shimmed and adjusted as best I could to improve things, but still not great. Don’t know how it happened to be open, I never leave it open. Not conscious of any warning, although I could have missed the DIC warning I suppose. This thing needs a loud audible warning. Present system isn’t good enough. I now understand there should have been an audible warning, but it’s not functioning on my car.
The 2020 Corvette has three separate positions for the frunk hood. It’s either closed all the way, slightly opened but held with a latch point that allows the use of a trickle-charger on the battery without pinching the cables, and the third is the frunk completely unlatched. When you open the frunk with the release button, you can hear it open past that second latch point, and all you have to do is simply raise it to open.
When the frunk is unlatched in either position, there’s a large red warning displayed on the DIC on start-up, and an audible warning to alert the driver when car is placed in Drive. So we think it would be difficult for the driver not to know the frunk was unlatched before driving.
CorvetteBlogger contributor Jeremy Welborn has read these reports as well and then went out to his garage to test the warning systems on his 2020 Corvette regarding the open frunk.
From the video, we see that Jeremy’s 2020 Corvette alerts him correctly when the frunk is opened, and it will not open when in Drive, Manual Mode, or Neutral. Jeremy even tests it at 44 mph and the frunk will not open if you push the button. Only with the car in Park will the frunk open when pressing the keyfob.
The third possibility is that something in the frunk shifted and hit the inside button to open. If this happens, it’s supposed to catch at the latch point when driving over 3 mph and the audio/visual alarms are supposed to show. However, we don’t think this is the case for all these incidents. Below is a graphic detailing the frunk emergency open operation:
So far, we appear to be at the beginning of this situation, and from what we’ve gleaned from the forum posts, this has the potential to be a real problem with serious consequences. Another member of the MidEngineCorvetteForum.com detailed his issue that when the frunk hood flew up at 30 mph, it bent the hinges as it covered the windshield while also doing so damage to the hood itself. The dealer refused to fix it as a warranty claim after calling GM and “they wouldn’t pay as it was my fault,” according to the owner.
Like this owner, those that have had this happen have had no warning or don’t recall seeing a warning that the frunk was opened. Now that we’ve seen Jeremy’s test, we have to think there’s something happening while driving that causes the latch to open and not driver error of accidentally hitting the fob button (twice). Hopefully, we’ll hear something soon from GM on this issue. Until then, be aware and be prepared!
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