Title:
AUTOMOTIVE CENTER CONSOLE WITH COMBINATION REAR WALL AND ARTICULATED ARMREST
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A storage console for an automotive vehicle includes a rear wall which is hingedly attached to the console's base unit, for rotation about an axis generally transverse to the vehicle. An armrest is attached to the rear wall and is preferably articulated to the rear wall, so as to effect a double-articulation sufficient to permit the armrest to be rotated into a horizontal position, which allows passengers seated in the rear seats of the vehicle to use features incorporated into the interior surface of the armrest.



Inventors:
Bejin, Peter Joseph (Northville, MI, US)
Schlosser, Andrew (Ypsilanti, MI, US)
Williams, Michael (Northville, MI, US)
Mullen, Gary D. (Farmington, MI, US)
Application Number:
11/308033
Publication Date:
09/06/2007
Filing Date:
03/03/2006
Assignee:
FORD GLOBAL TECHNOLOGIES, LLC (Dearborn, MI, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C7/62
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BONIFAZI, MELISSA ANN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Jerome R. Drouillard (Grass Lake, MI, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A storage console for an automotive vehicle, comprising: a base unit having a storage cavity defined in part by a floor, a fixed front wall, and fixed side walls, with said front wall and said side walls being attached to said floor; and an armrest and rear wall hingedly attached to said base unit for rotation about a generally transverse axis located proximate said floor.

2. A storage console according to claim 1, wherein said armrest and said rear wall are unitary.

3. A storage console according to claim 1, wherein said armrest is mounted to said rear wall by means of a hinge having a generally transverse hinge axis.

4. A storage console according to claim 1, wherein said armrest has at least a closed position in which it is overlaid upon said base unit, and an open position in which said storage cavity is completely accessible.

5. A storage console according to claim 1, wherein said armrest has a generally planar horizontal surface with a plurality of depending surfaces which overlap at least a portion of said front wall and said side walls when said armrest is in a closed position.

6. A storage console according to claim 1, wherein said armrest is mounted to said rear wall by means of a torque-responsive hinge having a generally transverse hinge axis.

7. A storage console according to claim 1, wherein said armrest is mounted to said rear wall by a hinge having a generally transverse hinge axis, with said hinge having a sufficient range of motion to permit said armrest to open to a generally horizontal position.

8. A storage console according to claim 7, further comprising a cup holder attached to an inner surface of said armrest such that said cup holder is useable when said armrest is opened to a horizontal position.

9. A storage console according to claim 8, wherein said cup holder is useable by a passenger in a rear seat of a vehicle when said armrest is opened to said horizontal position.

10. A storage console according to claim 1, further comprising a fixed cup holder mounted to said base unit at a location forward of said armrest.

11. A storage console for an automotive vehicle, comprising: a base unit having a storage cavity defined in part by a floor, a fixed front wall, and fixed side walls, with said front wall and said side walls being attached to said floor; and a double-articulated armrest and rear wall attached to said base unit, with said rear wall being articulated about a first generally transverse axis located proximate said floor, and with said armrest being articulated about a second generally transverse axis extending between the rear wall and the armrest.

12. A storage console according to claim 11, wherein said armrest is mounted to said rear wall for articulation about said second axis by means of a torque responsive hinge which resists rearward rotation about said second axis until such time as said rear wall is rotated to a rear stop position.

13. A storage console according to claim 12, wherein said torque responsive hinge permits rearward rotation of said armrest with respect to said rear wall to an extent at which said armrest is open and generally horizontal.

14. A storage console according to claim 13, further comprising a cup holder attached to an inner surface of said armrest such that said cup holder will be useable when said armrest is in said generally horizontal open position.

15. A storage console according to claim 11, further comprising a graphical display attached to an inner surface of said armrest such that said display will be viewable by an occupant seated in a rear seating position of a vehicle equipped with said console when said armrest is in said generally horizontal open position.

16. A storage console according to claim 11, wherein said armrest and said rear wall have a range of articulation sufficient to permit said armrest to be in contact with a rear seat structure when the armrest is in an open and generally horizontal position.

17. A storage console according to claim 16, wherein said rear seat structure comprises a center armrest for use by rear seat passengers.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a storage console of the type which is typically mounted on the floor of an automotive vehicle between adjacent left and right passenger seating positions.

Although automotive center consoles have become increasingly more sophisticated in terms of materials and methods of construction, a common problem with such consoles resides in the fact that the console's armrest, which also functions as a lid for the console, is most often hinged above an upper portion of the console, as shown in FIG. 5. Because of this hinge geometry, considerable dead space, labeled “X”, in FIG. 5, is present, due at least in part to limitations inherent in forming the console's inner liner. This space cannot easily be utilized precisely because of the limitations associated with placing the hinge for the console lid 42 upon the end of the console lid itself. And, the armrest is not useful for any other purpose than that depicted in FIG. 5. Another drawback applicable to prior art consoles is the appearance degradation associated with a visible hinge point.

A console according to the present invention solves the problems associated with prior art consoles by providing not only increased storage space, but also increased functionality and versatility by allowing the armrest to be folded back to function as a cup holder, as well as a platform for other utilities available to rear seat occupants of a vehicle. And, the present console provides improved aesthetics by rendering the armrest hinge much less visible to vehicle occupants.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A storage console for an automotive vehicle includes a base unit having a storage cavity defined in part by a floor, a fixed front wall, and fixed sidewalls, with the front wall and the sidewalls being attached to the floor. An armrest and rear wall are hingedly attached to the base unit for rotation about a generally transverse axis located proximate the floor of the console. The armrest and rear sidewall may either be unitary, or the armrest may be mounted to the rear sidewall by means of a hinge having a generally transverse hinge axis. In any event, the armrest will have at least a closed position in which it is overlaid upon the base unit, and an open position in which the storage cavity is completely accessible.

According to another aspect of the present invention, the armrest of the present storage console may have a generally planar horizontal surface with a plurality of depending surfaces which overlap at least a portion of the front wall and the sidewalls when the armrest is in a closed position.

In order to allow enhanced functionality of the present console, the armrest may be mounted to the rear wall by means of a torque-responsive hinge having a generally transverse hinge axis. The hinge mounted between the armrest and the rear wall of the console will preferably have a sufficient range of motion to permit the armrest to open to a generally horizontal position. This will allow devices such as a cup holder, or a graphical display attached to the normally inner surface of the armrest, to be viewable by an occupant seated in a rear seating position of a vehicle equipped with the console when the armrest is in a generally horizontal open position.

The present storage console may be said to have a double-articulated armrest and rear wall, with the rear wall being articulated about a first generally transverse axis located proximate the floor of the console, and with the armrest being articulated about a second generally transverse parallel axis extending between the rear wall and the armrest.

It is an advantage of a storage console according to the present invention that the entire interior space of the console is readily accessible for use as a storage space.

It is a further advantage of a console according to the present invention that the armrest and rear wall of the console may be articulated, so as to allow the armrest to be folded rearwardly and thereby positioned for use by rear seat occupants for such devices as cup holders and/or video displays.

Other advantages, as well as features and objects of the present invention, will become apparent to the reader of this specification.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a vehicle having a center console according to the present invention, shown in its open position.

FIG. 2 shows the console of FIG. 1 in a closed position.

FIG. 3 shows the console of FIGS. 1 and 2 in a partially opened position.

FIG. 4 shows the console of the present invention in a fully opened position.

FIG. 5 illustrates a prior art console.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

As shown in FIG. 1, vehicle 10 has a driver's seat, 11, a right side passenger front seat, 12, and a rear seat, including rear seat cushion 32. Center console 14 is mounted between driver's seat 11 and passenger front seat 12. FIG. 1 also shows that console 14 has a storage cavity defined at least in part by front wall 16, floor 17, sidewalls 18 and rear wall 20. For the convenience of front seat occupants, front cup holders 31 are located ahead of the storage compartment. Console 14 is topped by means of armrest 22, which is articulated to rear wall 20 by means of torque responsive hinge 26.

Rear wall 20 is articulated by means of lower hinge 24, which is mounted near, or proximate, the lower portion of console 14, at or adjacent console floor 17. The axes of hinges 24 and 26 are generally parallel and transverse to the vehicle. It may also be noted in FIG. 1 that armrest 22 has been opened fully and is resting upon rear seat structure 33, in this case a center armrest, so as to allow cup holder 30 and graphical display 28 to be used by a rear seat passenger.

As shown in FIG. 2, armrest 22 and rear wall 20 are articulated so that when closed, rear wall 20 will fit snugly against sidewalls 18 of console 14. Of equal importance, armrest 22 will also fit in a sliding or telescopic manner with sidewalls 18 and front wall 16. The fit of armrest 22 and rear wall 20 to sidewalls 18 and front wall 16 is aided by a reduced thickness area 18a of sidewalls 18, and 16a of front wall 16, which allows depending surfaces 22b of armrest 22 to overlap front wall 16 and sidewalls 18. Rear wall 20 is also provided with this overlap feature.

FIG. 2 shows armrest 22 and rear wall 20 in a partially opened position. In the position shown in FIG. 2, torque responsive hinge 26 functions as a rigid body. Thus, the entirety of armrest 22 and rear wall 20 may be opened as a unit, as shown in FIG. 2, to allow easy access to all of the interior space within console 14. If desired, hinge 26 may be replaced by a non-rotating joint or eliminated entirely; this would render rear wall 20 and armrest 22 a unitary component.

Rotation of hinge 24 is stopped mechanically at the position shown in FIG. 4. Once hinge 24 rotates to this point, rear wall 20 will not open further, and further rotation of armrest 22 may be commodated only by overriding the torque sensitive feature of hinge 26, so as to allow armrest 22 to be opened fully to the position shown in FIG. 4. Those skilled in the art will appreciate in view of this disclosure that a plethora of mechanisms are available within the automotive interior art to implement the hinge stop and torque sensitive hinge features, while providing the range of articulation shown herein.

While in the position of FIG. 4, armrest 22 rests upon rear seat center armrest 33. Alternatively, armrest 22 could either be cantilevered out from rear wall 20, or could be partially supported by another structure such as a pylon mounted to the floor of vehicle 10. According to yet another alternative, armrest 22 could be partially supported by a dedicated trim structure incorporated in a rear seat of vehicle 10. In any event, when armrest 22 is positioned according to its full range of articulation, as shown in FIG. 4, cup holder 30 and graphical display 28 may be used by rear seat passengers. For the convenience of such passengers, the graphical display may be placed upon a swivel mechanism.

Although the present invention has been described in connection with particular embodiments thereof, it is to be understood that various modifications, alterations, and adaptations may be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention set forth in the following claims.





 
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