What are the steps you take from when the idea lightbulb goes off over your head to making that vision a reality? We’re betting the steps are probably similar to what happens when a lightbulb goes off for a Ford designer or engineer about a vehicle, whether it has to do with cutting-edge improvements for a current model, advancements in safety technology, design changes or a completely new model to introduce. Part of your process is likely about exploring wild, never-before-done concepts, and it’s similar at Ford. But what you may not know is all of the alternatives that were explored before something like a concept vehicle goes from a doodle on paper to game-changing genius.
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Take the Ford Atlas Concept, which was unveiled on January 15, 2013, at the North American International Auto Show. The concept was about having the ultimate towing and hauling truck, with an emphasis on fuel efficiency and capability. The idea stemmed from taking what Ford knew customers wanted and needed and then incorporating all of those aspects into one package. But there were several ideas, styles and technologies considered before the vehicle was shown to the public for the first time.
The designers focused on the concept of purpose-built. The truck’s early looks ranged from a smooth, sleek design to a boxier, angled approach. When it came to cargo, designers toyed with various ways to give customers maximum storage, even exploring the hallowed space within the walls of the tailgate, like for a toolbox or first-aid kit. Instead, Ford designers believed customers would benefit more from having a way to secure large cargo like wood level with the roof of the cabin, and so the tailgate step also serves as a cargo cradle.
And speaking of the bed, because Ford knew a work truck will be used at various times of day, including before sun-up, lights were also studied. Would they be better at the top of the cab or within the bed when it came to illuminating cargo? Within the bed was the answer, which also gives the Atlas a futuristic look.
The Ford Atlas Concept features Active Wheel Shutters for fuel efficiency, which automatically hide for style when the truck is parked or traveling at low speeds, but when on the highway, the shutters close to improve aerodynamics. However, the early thoughts were to have complete surface wheels.
The Atlas is a great example of taking what-if to the next level. And Ford certainly knows a thing or two about staying ahead of the pack and how to Go Further through innovation.