It would not be a North American motor show without a big new 4x4 truck and Ford didn't disappoint.
The blue oval unveiled the Ford Atlas Concept at this week's Detroit show, labelling it a vehicle to showcase the design, capability, fuel efficiency and smart technologies that will define future utility vehicles.
''The Ford Atlas Concept previews the innovations that will transform what people expect from their pickup (ute),'' Raj Nair, the company's group vice president, Global Product Development, said.
Ford claims the concept is inspired by decades of listening to customers at the places they work and play adding they believe the result is a purpose-driven design with prominent wheel arches, a wide stance and chiseled grille to reinforce its functional image.
Designers enhanced truck functionality, while creating new advanced features which include multiple tie-down points integrated within the cargo box walls and load floor, along with 110-volt electrical outlets in the cargo box to charge power tools. An integrated roof carrying system and hidden extendable ramps give the truck unique functionality for a variety of jobs.
Inside the leather seating allows for extra legroom for rear passengers – along with integrated storage for smaller items while there are ''floating'' instrument pods and glove-friendly buttons and controls.
The vehicle also features Ford's EcoBoost powertrain with truck-enhanced auto start-stop engine shutoff technology which shuts off the engine when stopped in traffic to save fuel but suspends the feature when the truck knows it is towing.
An number of aerodynamic elements have also been added to reduce wind resistance including:
Active grille shutters that stay open when extra engine cooling is needed, such as during low-speed stop-and-go driving or while working in hot weather. The shutters automatically close to improve aerodynamics when cruising on the highway at steady speeds.
Active wheel shutters are hidden to improve style at rest and low speeds, but automatically close at highway speeds to improve aerodynamics. Self-charging batteries use energy from the wheels’ motion to power the shutters
A drop-down front wind spoiler lowers at highway speeds to improve underbody airflow. The air dam is raised at low speeds to improve ground clearance – helpful for off-roading.
Auto-deploying running boards help passengers enter the truck at rest and tuck up against the truck when it is moving to improve aerodynamics and ground clearance.
Ford says the combination of these fuel-saving features saves more than two miles-per-gallon on the highway without diminishing towing or hauling capability.
Further refinements have been been undertaken behind the cab as well.
A "dynamic hitch assist" helps precisely line up the truck's hitch with the trailer coupling, eliminating manoeuvring guesswork by showing visual cues in the truck's centre display screen.
A Ford truck first is a 360-degree point-of-view camera that gives a bird’s-eye view of the truck to help position the vehicle in tight places or when there are obstacles near the truck – such as on a busy job site or grocery store parking lot.
Lightweight, durable loading ramps are stowed below a cargo box and can be quickly removed and set up to assist with loading wheeled items into the bed.
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