Title:
UNDER SEAT CARGO MANAGEMENT SYSTEM FOR A VEHICLE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A selectively deployable cargo management system for a vehicle includes at least one cargo attachment device positioned on an underside of a foldable vehicle seat. The cargo attachment device may include a plurality of cargo hooks or projections attached to a seat cover on the underside of a vehicle seat so that the hooks may be manually or automatically deployed when the vehicle seat is placed in its folded position. Manually deployable hooks may be concealed beneath a foldable panel having one side removably secured to the seat underside so that the hooks may remain concealed when the foldable seat is in either position. The system may also include a storage compartment disposed beneath a foldable vehicle seat with one or more cargo hanging projections attached thereto. A device to secure the cargo management devices to a second vehicle seating component may also be provided.



Inventors:
Sturt, Alan (West Bloomfield, MI, US)
Kim, Won-tai (Macomb, MI, US)
Application Number:
10/904554
Publication Date:
05/18/2006
Filing Date:
11/16/2004
Assignee:
LEAR CORPORATION (Southfield, MI, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C7/62
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BROWN, PETER R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BIR LAW, PLC (PLYMOUTH, MI, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A cargo management system for a vehicle, the system comprising: a cargo hanging device disposed beneath and secured to an underside of a vehicle seat, the vehicle seat being pivotable between a deployed seating position and a stowed position, the cargo hanging device being substantially hidden from view when the vehicle seat is in the deployed seating position.

2. The system of claim 1 wherein the cargo hanging device comprises a plurality of hooks.

3. The system of claim 2 wherein the cargo management system further comprises a retention device secured to the vehicle seat and adapted for removable attachment to a secondary vehicle component to retain the vehicle seat in the stowed position.

4. The system of claim 3 wherein the retention device comprises an elastic strap having a hook at one end for securing to a vehicle seat head restraint post.

5. The system of claim 1 wherein the cargo hanging device comprises a foldable flap having a first end permanently secured to the underside of the vehicle seat and a second end attachable to a secondary vehicle component to expose the cargo hanging device when the vehicle seat is in the stowed position.

6. The system of claim 5 wherein the second end of the foldable flap includes a hook adapted for attachment to a head restraint post.

7. The system of claim 5 wherein the second end of the foldable flap is attachable to the underside of the vehicle seat to conceal the cargo hanging device when the vehicle seat is in either one of the seating position and the stowed position.

8. The system of claim 1 wherein the cargo hanging device comprises a storage compartment having an access opening to stow and retrieve cargo and at least one protrusion extending from the storage compartment adapted to hang cargo.

9. The system of claim 8 wherein the storage compartment includes a door to selectively cover the access opening.

10. The system of claim 8 wherein the storage compartment includes collapsible sides and a collapsible bottom.

11. The system of claim 8 further comprising a retention device fixable to the vehicle seat and a secondary vehicle component to secure the vehicle seat in a stowed position.

12. The system of claim 8 wherein the access opening is along an upper edge of the storage compartment when the vehicle seat is in the stowed position.

13. The system of claim 8 wherein the access opening is disposed in a lateral face of the compartment and the at least one protrusion extends from an upper edge of the storage compartment when the vehicle seat is in the stowed position.

14. A cargo management device for a vehicle, the cargo management device comprising: a storage compartment securable to an underside of a foldable vehicle seat having an open seating position and a folded position, the storage compartment including an access opening to stow and retrieve cargo, the storage compartment having a plurality of projections extending therefrom and adapted to hang cargo when the vehicle seat is in the folded position.

15. The cargo management device of claim 14 wherein the storage compartment further includes a cover for the access opening to facilitate retention of cargo in the storage compartment.

16. The cargo management device of claim 14 wherein the storage compartment includes collapsible sides.

17. The cargo management device of claim 14 wherein the storage compartment is made of flexible material.

18. A cargo management system for a vehicle, the cargo management system comprising: a vehicle seat pivotable between a seating position generally parallel to a vehicle floor and a cargo position generally perpendicular to the vehicle floor; and a cargo hanging device secured to an underside of the vehicle seat to be substantially concealed from view when the vehicle seat is in the seating position and substantially exposed when the vehicle seat is in the cargo position.

19. The cargo management system of claim 18 wherein the cargo hanging device comprises a storage compartment having a plurality of projections extending therefrom to accommodate hanging cargo, the storage compartment including a door to provide access to an interior portion of the compartment for stowing and retrieving cargo.

20. The cargo management system of claim 18 wherein the cargo hanging device comprises a foldable panel permanently secured to a seat cover of the vehicle seat along one edge of the panel and including an integral hook adapted for securing to a head restraint post of a second vehicle seat, the foldable panel including a plurality of projections extending therefrom and adapted to hang cargo.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to devices disposed under a folding vehicle seat used to manage cargo.

BACKGROUND ART

Flexibility in configuring a vehicle interior to accommodate a varying number of passengers in addition to cargo of different shapes and sizes is a feature that consumers demand in various types of vehicles, including automobiles, trucks, and watercraft, for example. Reconfigurable seating options often provide for a significant increase in the area available to transport cargo when needed. However, cargo restraint or management systems are typically not provided for this reconfigurable space. Various types of OEM and after-market accessories have been developed for use in organizing and securing cargo. However, currently available cargo management, organization, and/or restraint systems, may also occupy significant space when not in use, or may be removed from the vehicle so that they are not available when needed. A number of cargo management systems provide storage compartments, netting, pockets, or hooks on various interior trim panels, such as seat backs or door panels for example, to secure various types of cargo. However, these systems may detract from the aesthetic appeal of the vehicle interior as they are always exposed whether or not they are being used. In addition, positioning of cargo management devices on the back of vehicle seats may not be an available option for various vehicle seating configurations that include fold-down and/or back-to-back seating, i.e. a rearward facing seat against a forward facing seat, as often found in small trucks, aircraft, and watercraft, for example.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention includes a selectively deployable cargo management system for a vehicle including at least one cargo attachment device positioned on an underside of a foldable vehicle seat. The cargo management system may include one or more types of cargo management devices to secure cargo when the seat is in its folded position and/or when the seat is being used.

In one embodiment, the present invention includes a plurality of cargo hooks attached to a seat cover on the underside of a foldable vehicle seat so that the hooks may be manually or automatically deployed when the vehicle seat is placed in its folded position. Manually deployable hooks may be concealed beneath a foldable panel having one side removably secured to the seat underside so that the hooks may remain concealed when the seat is in either position. The present invention may also include a device to secure the plurality of cargo hooks to a second vehicle seating component to secure the foldable seat in its folded position and/or accommodate heavier cargo. In one embodiment, the securing device includes a strap to hold the seat in its folded position. Another embodiment includes an integrated hook to secure a foldable panel in an open position to a second seating component.

Embodiments of the present invention may also include a cargo management system having a storage compartment or box disposed under a foldable vehicle seat with an opening positioned to be accessible at least when the seat is moved from a seating position to a folded position. The storage compartment may include a substantially solid bottom surface that includes one or more integral cargo hooks that may extend from the bottom surface to the interior and/or exterior of the storage compartment. Alternatively, one or more discrete or connected cargo hooks may be secured to a storage compartment or pocket comprised at least partially of a flexible material, such as fabric or netting.

The present invention provides a number of advantages. For example, the present invention provides a flexible cargo management feature that is concealed beneath a vehicle seat and is therefore more aesthetically pleasing. In addition, the present invention may include various cargo management devices that remain concealed from view until manually deployed, regardless of whether the vehicle seat is in a seating (deployed) position or folded position. The invention may be used to secure cargo beneath the seat when in its deployed position in addition to being used when the seat is in a folded position. Various embodiments of the invention provide cargo management hooks positioned beneath a foldable vehicle seat that offer additional support for heavier cargo and secure the seat in the folded position using an associated strap. A cargo management system according to the present invention may be integrated into the underside of a vehicle seat cover to facilitate a running-change implementation rather than making relatively costly changes to vehicle trim panels.

The above advantage and other advantages and features of the present invention will be readily apparent from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments when taken in connection with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a partial view of a representative application for an under seat cargo management system according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 illustrates a manually deployed cargo management system according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 illustrates a cargo management system having automatically deployed cargo hooks with a seat support strap according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 illustrates a cargo management system having a storage compartment with integrated hanging cargo management devices according to one embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 5 illustrates a cargo management system having an open-ended storage compartment with collapsible side panels and attached cargo hooks according to one embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT(S)

As those of ordinary skill in the art will understand, various features of the present invention as illustrated and described with reference to any one of the Figures may be combined with features illustrated in one or more other Figures to produce embodiments of the present invention that are not explicitly illustrated or described. The combinations of features illustrated provide representative embodiments for typical applications. However, various combinations and modifications of the features consistent with the teachings of the present invention may be desired for particular applications or implementations.

Referring now to FIG. 1, an under seat cargo management system 10 according to one embodiment of the present invention includes foldable seats 12, 14 with seat 12 in a deployed or seating position and seat 14 in the folded position, also referred to as the stowed or cargo position. Foldable seats 12, 14 include a seat cushion and cover 18 and a back cushion and cover 20, 22, which may include one or more sections or portions as illustrated by the two-part back cushion and cover in FIG. 1. In the illustrated representative application, foldable seats 12, 14 are positioned in a pick-up truck cab arrangement with a secondary vehicle component represented by a divider panel or the back of a forward facing bench seat 16. Of course, the present invention may be used in a variety of seating configurations and is not limited to individual folding seats, a back-to-back seating arrangement, or multiple forward facing seats or rows of seats. For example, the present invention may also be applied to vehicles having a foldable seat attached to a bulk head, side panel, vehicle floor, or other portion of a vehicle rather than to another seat or seating component. Additional representative applications may include vehicles having a second or third row bench seat or split bench seat having a seat cushion that folds or pivots from a deployed or seating position generally parallel to the vehicle floor to accommodate an occupant, to a stowed or folded position generally perpendicular to the vehicle floor to accommodate cargo. A cargo management system according to the present invention is removably or preferably fixedly attached to the bottom of the seat to be substantially hidden from view when the seat is in the deployed or seating position.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the bottom or seat portion 18 of foldable or pivotable vehicle seats 12, 14 is connected to back portion 20 via one or more hinges 24, 26 or similar devices that allow bottom portion 18 to move between a seating position as represented by seat 12 to a stowed or cargo position as represented by seat 14. In a representative application, the front portion of seats 12, 14 is supported by a seat riser or raised area of the vehicle floor when in the seating position. Seats 12, 14 include a cargo hanging device 28 implemented by a foldable flap 30 in this embodiment. Foldable flap 30 includes a first end 32 preferably permanently secured to the underside of seat 14, such as by stitching to the seat cover, to facilitate pivoting or folding. Flap 30 has a second end that includes an integrated retention device 34 adapted for attachment to a secondary vehicle component or device. In the illustrated embodiment, retention device 34 is implemented by an integrated hook adapted for removable attachment to a head restraint post 36 or similar device. Retention device 34 and/or another portion of the second end of flap 30 may include one or more cooperating latching devices 40, 42 to removably secure the second end to the underside of seat 18 and maintain flap 30 in the stowed position. In one embodiment, latching devices 40, 42 are implemented by a hook-and-loop closure.

The cargo management system in the embodiment of FIGS. 1 and 2 is manually deployed from the stowed position in FIG. 1 to the deployed position in FIG. 2 by releasing the latching device 40, 42 and securing the retaining element 34 to a secondary vehicle component, such as head restraint post 36 as shown in FIG. 2. The deployed position of cargo management device 28 exposes one or more devices 44 having protrusions, projections, hooks, hangers, or the like represented by reference numerals 46, 48, 50 adapted for hanging various types of cargo. Devices 44 may be advantageously positioned relative to first end 32 of foldable flap 30 on the underside of seat 18 such that in the stowed position illustrated in FIG. 1, devices 44 are positioned so they do not interfere with the seat riser or raised area of the vehicle floor (not shown) when seats 12, 14 are in the seating position. When the cargo management system is deployed, device 44 pivots about first end 32 to a higher position on seat bottom 18 to better accommodate hanging cargo. As such, in this embodiment, cargo hanging device 44 moves from a first position closer to hinges 24, 26 to provide clearance for a seat support when in the stowed position to a second position farther from hinges 24, 26 to better accommodate hanging cargo when cargo hanging device 44 is in the deployed position and seats 12, 14 are in the folded position. In the deployed position illustrated in FIG. 2, any load placed on device 44 may be distributed between the fastener or seam along first end 32, and retention device 34. As shown in FIG. 1, the stowed position of cargo management device 28 conceals devices 44 from view when the vehicle seats are in either the seating position represented by seat 12 or the stowed position represented by seat 14.

An alternative embodiment of a cargo management system according to the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 3. This embodiment is similar to the embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2 in that it includes a vehicle seat 18 pivotable via hinges 26 between a seating position (not specifically shown) generally parallel to a vehicle floor and the illustrated cargo or stowed position generally perpendicular to the vehicle floor. Seat 18 includes a cargo hanging device 58 disposed beneath and secured to the underside of the seat such that cargo hanging device 58 is substantially hidden from view when seat 18 is in the deployed seating position. Unlike the device 44 (FIG. 2), cargo hanging device 58 is automatically deployed or accessible for use when seat 18 is placed in the stowed position, i.e. no additional action is required by the user to reveal cargo hanging device 58. This feature also allows hanging device 58 to be used when seat 18 is in its seating or deployed position.

As illustrated in FIG. 3, cargo hanging device 58 includes a base portion 60 that may be permanently fixed to the underside of seat 18. A plurality of hangers, hooks, or similar protrusions 62 extend from base portion 60 to accommodate various types of hanging cargo. Although protrusions 62 are illustrated as being similar in shape and generally equally spaced, various configurations may be used depending upon the particular application and implementation. An optional retaining element implemented by an elastomeric cord 64 and hook 66 may be provided to secure seat 18 in the stowed position and accommodate a heavier hanging load on cargo hanging device 58 without unintentionally deploying seat 18. Hook 66 or a similar device may be adapted for securing to a secondary vehicle component, such as head restraint post 36. Of course, those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize various other methods of securing seat 18 in a stowed position other than using an auxiliary retention or securing device as illustrated. For example, hinges 26 may include a locking or latching mechanism to secure seat 18 in the stowed position, or one or more straps may be provided to secure the bottom cushion to the back cushion of the seat 18, etc

FIG. 4 illustrates another embodiment of a cargo management system for a vehicle according to the present invention. In the embodiment of FIG. 4, a cargo hanging device 68 secured to the underside of foldable seat 18 includes a storage compartment 70. An access opening is provided with an optional cover or door 72 to facilitate retention of cargo within storage compartment 70 when seat 18 is in either the deployed position or folded position. Access cover 72 may be attached in any suitable manner including a hinged arrangement as illustrated or a sliding arrangement, for example, to provide access to an interior portion of the compartment for stowing and retrieving cargo. Similarly, access cover 72 may be made of a flexible material, netting, or cloth, for example, to retain and conceal cargo stowed within storage compartment 70. Similarly, one or more access openings may be provided in various positions and configurations on storage compartment 70 depending upon the particular application and configuration. For example, storage compartment 70 may be divided into two sections with access opening provided on each side for a corresponding section rather than a single door on the face of the compartment.

In the representative embodiment illustrated in FIG. 4, storage compartment 70 includes at least one protrusion, projection, hanger, or hook represented by reference numeral 74 that may be integrally formed with storage compartment 68. Projections 74 are adapted to accommodate hanging cargo, particularly when the vehicle seat is in the folded position as shown.

Another embodiment of a cargo management system for a vehicle according to the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 5. A cargo hanging device 78 is disposed beneath and secured to foldable vehicle seat 18. Cargo hanging device 78 is preferably positioned to be substantially concealed from view when seat 8 is in the seating position and substantially exposed or accessible when seat 18 is in the folded or cargo position as illustrated. In this embodiment, cargo hanging device 78 includes a storage compartment 80 having a plurality of hooks 82 adapted to accommodate hanging cargo secured to the face of storage compartment 80 with an access opening 84 to facilitate storage and retrieval of cargo. Appropriate positioning of access opening 84 facilitates retention of cargo stowed within storage compartment 80 when seat 18 is in either the deployed position or the folded position illustrated. Although not required, a cover or flap (not shown) may be provided with an appropriate latching device to cover access opening 84 and optionally conceal and retain any contents. Storage compartment 80 includes collapsible sides 86 and a collapsible bottom (not shown) made of flexible material or fabric so storage compartment 80 may be folded substantially flat to increase available vehicle interior space when storage compartment 80 is not being used to stow cargo.

As can be seen from the various embodiments, the present invention provides a flexible cargo management feature that is concealed beneath a vehicle seat and is therefore more aesthetically pleasing. In addition, the present invention may include various cargo management devices that remain concealed from view until manually deployed, regardless of whether the vehicle seat is in a seating (deployed) position or folded position. The invention may combine a storage compartment and hooks or other hanging devices that can be used to secure cargo beneath the seat when the seat is in a folded position as well as when the seat is in the deployed position. In addition, a cargo management system according to the present invention may be integrated into the underside of a vehicle seat cover to facilitate a running-change implementation rather than making relatively costly changes to vehicle trim panels.

While the best mode for carrying out the invention has been described in detail, those familiar with the art to which this invention relates will recognize various alternative designs and embodiments for practicing the invention as defined by the following claims.