Title:
Vehicle cargo retainer
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A cargo retainer coupled relative to a vehicle surface includes a perimeter frame and a flexible member mounted within the perimeter frame. The perimeter frame is further coupled to a vehicle component and movable relative to a vehicle surface.



Inventors:
Sturt, Alan (W. Bloomfield, MI, US)
Mckenzie, John S. (Royal Oak, MI, US)
Application Number:
11/640672
Publication Date:
06/19/2008
Filing Date:
12/18/2006
Assignee:
Lear Corporation
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B61D45/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ENGLE, PATRICIA LYNN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
INTERNATIONAL AUTOMOTIVE COMPONENTS GROUP, LLC (TOLEDO, OH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A cargo retainer coupled relative to a vehicle surface, said cargo retainer comprising: a perimeter frame; and a flexible member mounted within said perimeter frame, wherein said perimeter frame is coupled to a vehicle component and movable relative to a vehicle surface.

2. The cargo retainer according to claim 1, wherein said perimeter frame is movable between a coupled position and an uncoupled position relative to said vehicle component.

3. The cargo retainer according to claim 1, wherein said perimeter frame is movable between an open position and a closed position relative to said vehicle surface.

4. The cargo retainer according to claim 1, wherein said flexible member is expandable such that objects having a plurality of sizes may be securely retained between said vehicle surface and said flexible member.

5. The cargo retainer according to claim 4, wherein said vehicle surface is a bottom wall of a recess formed in a vehicle floor.

6. The cargo retainer according to claim 1, further including a pivot member coupling said cargo retainer to said vehicle component.

7. The cargo retainer according to claim 6, wherein said cargo retainer is positionable between a closed position and a plurality of open positions relative to said vehicle surface.

8. The cargo retainer according to claim 7, wherein said flexible member is expandable such that objects having a plurality of sizes may be securely retained between said vehicle surface and said flexible member when said cargo retainer is positioned in any of said closed and said plurality of open positions.

9. The cargo retainer according to claim 1, wherein said flexible member comprises one of a net, a flexible fabric panel, and a plurality of flexible members.

10. The cargo retainer according to claim 1, wherein said vehicle surface is a reversible vehicle load panel.

11. The cargo retainer according to claim 10, wherein said reversible vehicle load panel defines a cover of a recess formed in a vehicle floor, and wherein said reversible vehicle load panel is positionable between a first position such that said cargo retainer is disposed within said recess and a second position such that said cargo retainer is exposed to a vehicle interior.

12. A cargo retainer coupled relative to a vehicle surface, said cargo retainer comprising: a vehicle surface; a perimeter frame; and a flexible member mounted within said perimeter frame, wherein said perimeter frame is pivotally coupled to a vehicle component and pivotally movable relative to a vehicle surface, and wherein said flexible member is expandable such that objects having a plurality of sizes may be securely retained between said vehicle surface and said flexible member.

13. The cargo retainer according to claim 12, wherein said perimeter frame is movable between a coupled position and an uncoupled position relative to said vehicle component.

14. The cargo retainer according to claim 12, wherein said perimeter frame is movable between an open position and a closed position relative to said vehicle surface.

15. The cargo retainer according to claim 12, wherein said vehicle surface is a bottom wall of a recess formed in a vehicle floor.

16. The cargo retainer according to claim 12, wherein said cargo retainer is positionable between a closed position and a plurality of open positions relative to said vehicle surface.

17. The cargo retainer according to claim 16, wherein said objects having a plurality of sizes may be securely retained between said vehicle surface and said flexible member when said cargo retainer is positioned in any of said closed and said plurality of open positions.

18. The cargo retainer according to claim 12, wherein said vehicle surface is a reversible vehicle load panel.

19. The cargo retainer according to claim 18, wherein said reversible vehicle load panel defines a cover of a recess formed in a vehicle floor, and wherein said reversible vehicle load panel is positionable between a first position such that said cargo retainer is disposed within said recess and a second position such that said cargo retainer is exposed to a vehicle interior.

20. A cargo retainer attachable relative to a vehicle surface, said cargo retainer comprising: a reversible vehicle load panel having a first surface and a second surface; and a flexible member selectively attachable to said first surface of said reversible vehicle load panel, wherein said reversible vehicle load panel defines a cover of a recess formed in a vehicle floor, wherein said flexible member is expandable such that objects having a plurality of sizes may be securely retained between said reversible vehicle load panel and said flexible member, and wherein said reversible vehicle load panel is positionable between a first position such that said cargo retainer is disposed within said recess and a second position such that said cargo retainer is exposed to a vehicle cargo area.

Description:

BACKGROUND

Various embodiments of a vehicle cargo retainer are described herein. In particular, the embodiments described herein relate to an improved cargo retainer for a vehicle.

Many vehicles, such as station wagons, vans, mini-vans, sport utility vehicles (SUV), and the like have flat cargo-receiving areas in their interiors behind the passenger seats.

Various methods of securing cargo which may be stored in the cargo-receiving areas are known and include rigid and bulky built-in or after-market storage containers, and loose nets. Such known methods of securing cargo may be undesirably bulky, may not accommodate large objects, and may allow stored objects to move within the container or net, resulting in undesirable noise. It would therefore be advantageous to provide an improved retainer for securing cargo within a vehicle.

FIG. 1 illustrates a prior art net 10 for retaining cargo (shown as a ball 12) in a vehicle interior 14.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,817,644 discloses a barrier net for restraining cargo within the cargo area from entering the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,099,222 discloses a net type cargo restraining system comprising a net detachably connected to a front of the cargo area and the vehicle door, whereby the net member is raised and lowered with the door to provide access to the cargo and capture the cargo on the vehicle floor when the door is closed.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,926,348 discloses a reversible load floor which covers a recess in a vehicle cargo area. The reversible load floor includes a substantially flat first surface and a second surface with a wall projecting from the perimeter thereof.

SUMMARY

The present application describes various embodiments of a cargo retainer coupled relative to a vehicle surface. One embodiment of the cargo retainer includes a perimeter frame and a flexible member mounted within the perimeter frame. The perimeter frame is further coupled to a vehicle component and movable relative to a vehicle surface. Other advantages of the cargo retainer will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description, when read in light of the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a prior art cargo net for retaining cargo in a vehicle interior.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a first embodiment of a cargo retainer.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a portion of a vehicle interior showing the cargo retainer illustrated in FIG. 2 in an open position.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a portion of the vehicle interior illustrated in FIG. 3 showing the cargo retainer in a closed position.

FIG. 5 is a schematic bottom view of a second embodiment of the cargo retainer.

FIG. 6 is an enlarged perspective view of an alternate embodiment of a hinge mounted to the cargo retainers illustrated in FIGS. 2 through 5.

FIG. 7 is schematic side elevational view of a third embodiment of the cargo retainer.

FIG. 8 is a side elevational view in section of a fourth embodiment of the cargo retainer.

FIG. 9 is an enlarged side elevational view in section of a portion of a fifth embodiment of a cargo retainer.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring now to the drawings, there is illustrated in FIGS. 2 through 4, inclusive, a first embodiment of a cargo retainer, generally shown at 20. The cargo retainer 20 may be used in a cargo-receiving area, generally shown at 22 in FIGS. 3 and 4, of a vehicle interior, such as the interior space behind the passenger seats 24 in a station wagon, van, mini-van, sport utility vehicle (SUV), and the like.

The cargo retainer 20 includes a frame 26 defining a perimeter. The illustrated frame 26 is substantially rectangular in shape and includes first 26A, second 26B, third 26C, and fourth 26D side members. It will be understood that the frame 26 may have any other desired shape, such as a shape which corresponds to the shape of a first embodiment of a surface or trim panel 28 to which the frame 26 will be coupled. The illustrated trim panel 28 is a reversible vehicle load or floor panel (described below in detail) and includes a substantially flat first side (not shown but oriented downwardly in FIGS. 3 and 4) for supporting objects. A second side 28B includes an outwardly (upwardly as viewed in FIGS. 3 and 4) extending wall 46 defining a panel recess 48.

The illustrated frame 26 is formed from tubular aluminum. Alternatively, other suitable materials may be used. Examples of suitable materials include steel, glass-filled nylon, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polycarbonate ABS, reinforced polypropylene, and other metals, metal alloys, plastic or resin, and other non-metals. It will be understood that the frame 26 need not be formed from a tubular material. For example, the frame 26 may also be formed from any suitable solid material.

Articulating or pivot members 30 may be provided on the frame 26 for coupling the cargo retainer 20 to the vehicle trim panel 28. In the embodiment of the cargo retainer 120 illustrated in FIG. 5, the frame 126 includes first 126A, second 126B, third 126C, and fourth 126D side members. The pivot members are hinges 30 attached to the first side member 126A of the frame 126. Alternatively, the hinges 30 may be attached to any other desired portion of the frame 126. Any desired hinge 30 may be used. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 7, the hinge is a constant torque hinge 130, such as manufactured by the Reell® Precision Manufacturing Corporation. Such constant torque hinges provide constant torque throughout the full range of hinge motion.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 6, the hinges 230 are structured and configured to couple to an attachment feature in the vehicle, such as for example, a hook 52, such as a hook commonly used to retain grocery bags. Alternatively, the hinges 30, 130, 230 may be coupled or attached to the vehicle trim panel 28 with any desired fasteners, such as threaded fasteners.

A latch 32 may be provided on the frame 26 for selectively latching the cargo retainer 20 to an attachment feature within the vehicle. In the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 2 through 5, the latch 32 is attached to the second side member 26B. Alternatively, one or more latches 32 may be attached to any other desired portion of the frame 26, such as the third or fourth side members, 26C and 26D, respectively. It will be understood however, that hinges are not required, as shown in FIG. 8 and explained in detail below.

In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2, substantially flexible members or straps 34 (only a portion of which are shown) extend between the first and second side members 26A and 26B. The straps 34 are mounted or attached within the frame 26 by any desired means, such as for example, with threaded fasteners (not shown). In the exemplary embodiment illustrated, the straps 34 are mounted within slots 36 formed in the first and second side members 26A and 26B. Any desired number and type of flexible members or straps 34 may be provided. The illustrated straps 34 are formed from a substantially flexible material, such as for example, urethane. Alternatively, other suitable materials, such as other elastomers, may be used.

Referring again to FIG. 5, and using like reference numbers to indicate corresponding parts, there is illustrated a schematic bottom view of a second alternate embodiment of the cargo retainer, shown generally at 120. As shown therein, the cargo retainer 120 includes a substantially flexible mesh or net 38 mounted or attached within the frame 126. The net 38 may be formed from any desired mesh or net material, such as for example, nylon. In another embodiment, not illustrated, a substantially flexible fabric panel is mounted or attached within the frame 126. The panel may be formed from any desired substantially flexible material, such as for example, lycra®. Alternatively, a flexible member formed from any other suitable substantially flexible material may be used.

In the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 4, the cargo retainer 20 is coupled to a first embodiment of a vehicle trim panel or reversible vehicle floor panel 28. It will be understood that the cargo retainers 20, 120, 220, 320, and 420 may be selectively moved between a coupled position wherein the cargo retainers 20, 120, 220, 320, and 420 are coupled or attached to the panels 28, 128, 228, and 328, and an uncoupled position wherein the cargo retainers 20, 120, 220, 320, and 420 are not attached relative to the vehicle.

A second embodiment of the reversible vehicle floor panel is generally shown at 128 in FIG. 7. As shown in FIGS. 3, 4, and 7, the cargo-receiving area 22 of a vehicle may include a surface or vehicle floor panel 40 having the recess 42 formed therein. The illustrated recess 42 includes a panel receiving ledge 44. In such a floor panel 40, the reversible floor panels 28, 128, and 228 may be used to cover the recess 42 in a closed position, and allow access to the recess 42 in an open position.

Referring again to FIG. 7, and using like reference numbers to indicate corresponding parts, there is illustrated a schematic side elevational view of a third alternate embodiment of the cargo retainer, shown generally at 220. The reversible floor panel 128 illustrated in FIG. 7 defines a cover for the recess 42 and includes a substantially flat first side 128A (oriented downwardly in FIG. 7) for supporting objects. A second side 128B includes an outwardly (upwardly as viewed in FIG. 7) extending wall 146 defining a panel recess 148. The reversible floor panel 128 may be disposed with the first side 128A oriented facing the recess 42, as shown in FIG. 7, or with the second side 128B oriented facing the recess 42 (not shown). When the second side 128B is oriented facing the recess 42, the attached cargo retainer 220 is disposed or stored within the recess 42.

As shown in FIG. 7, the cargo retainer 220 is coupled to the wall 146 by the hinges 130 mounted to the first side member 126A. The second side member 126B of the frame 126 is retained in a groove 50 formed in an inner surface of the wall 146. It will be understood that the groove 50 may be any combination of one or more grooves formed in the inner surface of the wall 146.

The cargo retainer 220 is structured and configured such that an operator may flex either or both of the second side member 126B or the wall 146 so as to insert the second side member 126B into the groove 50, thereby moving the cargo retainer 220 between a latched position, as shown in FIG. 7, and an unlatched position, such as shown in FIG. 3.

Referring now to FIG. 8, and using like reference numbers to indicate corresponding parts, there is illustrated a side elevation view in section of a portion of a fourth alternate embodiment of the cargo retainer, shown generally at 320. As shown therein, the cargo retainer 320 does not include a hinge. The first side member 226A of the frame 226 is retained in a groove 150 formed in an inner surface of the wall 246 of the reversible floor panel 228. It will be understood that the groove 150 may be any combination of one or more grooves formed in the inner surface of the wall 246. As described above regarding the cargo retainer 220, the cargo retainer 320 is structured and configured such that an operator may flex either or both of the first side member 226A or the wall 246 so as to insert the first side member 226A into the groove 150.

Referring now to FIG. 9, and using like reference numbers to indicate corresponding parts, there is illustrated an enlarged side elevation view in section of a fifth alternate embodiment of the cargo retainer, shown generally at 420. As shown therein, the cargo retainer 420 includes a net 138 and a reversible floor panel 328 having an outwardly (upwardly as viewed in FIG. 9) extending wall 346 defining a panel recess 348. The net 138 may be coupled to the wall 346 at any desired number of coupling locations 329. For example, the four corners of a substantially rectangular shaped net 138 may be coupled to the wall 346. Cargo 12 to be retained may be placed between the net 138 and panel 328 by lifting a side edge 138A of the net 138, or by uncoupling the net 138 at one or more of the coupling locations 329.

Cargo to be retained by the cargo retainers 20, 120, 220, 320, and 420 has been described and illustrated as a ball 12. It will be understood that any desired size and shape of cargo may be satisfactorily retained by the cargo retainers 20, 120, 220, 320, and 420 described herein.

Although not illustrated, the cargo retainers 20, 120, 220, and 320 may be coupled, such as pivotally coupled, to the back of a seat cushion (not shown) adjacent the vehicle floor panel 40. Alternatively, the cargo retainers 20, 120, 220, and 320 may be pivotally coupled to a rearward facing portion of the passenger seats 24, such as the passenger seats 24 in FIGS. 3 and 4.

If desired, the cargo retainers 20, 120, 220, and 320 may be coupled to a substantially vertical interior trim panel, such as the trim panel 41 illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 4, so as to retain cargo relative to the vertical trim panel 41. It will be understood that in such an arrangement, the cargo retainers 20, 120, 220, and 320 may be coupled to the substantially vertical interior trim panel 41. Alternately, the cargo retainers 20, 120, 220, and 320 may be coupled to a vehicle floor adjacent the trim panel 41. It will be appreciated that the trim panel to which the cargo retainers 20, 120, 220, and 320 are coupled may be any other desired vehicle trim panel.

In operation, the cargo retainer 20 may be moved between an open or unlatched position, as shown in FIG. 3, a closed or latched position relative to the panels 28, 128, 228, and 328, as best shown in FIG. 4, and a plurality of intermediate positions. Cargo, such as the ball 12, to be retained may be placed between the straps 34 and the bottom wall of the panel recess 48, as shown in FIG. 3. The frame 26 may then be lowered to the wall 46, such that the latch 32 is engaged.

Alternatively, as best shown in FIG. 7, the frame 126 may be latched by disposing the second side member 126B in the groove 50. Cargo 12 may also be retained when the frame 26 is in one of the plurality of intermediate positions. For example, when using the constant torque hinge 130, relatively large cargo may be retained between the straps 34 of the frame 26 and the bottom wall of the recess 48 by lowering the frame 26 to an intermediate position such that the straps 34 engage the cargo 12 and the constant torque hinges 130 retain the frame 26 one of the intermediate positions.

The principle and mode of operation of the vehicle cargo retainer have been described in its various embodiments. However, it should be noted that the cargo retainer described herein may be practiced otherwise than as specifically illustrated and described without departing from its scope.