The Story Behind the Ford Atlas Concept Truck
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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.

Ford-Atlas-Concept-design

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.

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55 COMMENTS ON THIS ARTICLE
Ernie M I want the combination of a twin turbo V-6 with Raptor suspension and an 8 speed transmission. A truck so equiped would meet my needs for on-road economy and off-road performance. Please help keep a Jeep Wrangler out of my future. By the way, I own a 2011 F-150 4X4 with ecoboost V-6. Great truck! Ernie M.
3 months(s) ago via
Linda H please, please make the Atlas my husband and I are praying you build this beautiful truck. It would be a shame if you didn't. :0)
4 months(s) ago via
Steve F Prefer the sleeker designs for the new body style - time to update the look and move far ahead of the rest.
9 months(s) ago via
Joseph A Style: Short version. Yes, Ford needs to build this truck. Long version: Ford needs to have a stand out design. The last few model years have had... well…. Bland styling. The latest generation is getting closer, but the truck market is beginning to take style very seriously. MPG, towing and functionality are great, but having a truck that looks good, and has strong styling to it has become a high criterion as well. So far, the last few years 1997-2013 have been “The Camry of the truck market” Bland, low on style, but a huge value. As a loyal Ford driver, I will always buy a Ford. Yet the last few generations have been all about value and having the best possible truck on the work site, Period. Style took a back seat to the rest. That was great in those times. Now Folks are looking for more of a statement about them selves. Trucks and vehicles in general, are becoming even more of an individual statement then simple transportation. I appreciate the simple utility of a vehicle as much as the next consumer does. However, quite a few folks are not brand loyal. They buy on style, function, price and durability. The next truck that Ford puts into production cannot only capitalize on these undecided, non-brand specific (Brand loyal) folks. It can also please or amaze those of us who will buy a Ford vehicle no matter the situation. If it is done correctly and has a strong enough statement, a few of the other-brand loyal folks will also look at Ford instead of their standby brands. Poaching of a sort is legal in the marketing world. Exterior: This truck has such a strong statement that it would be a shame to water it down. Coming to market soft with it will just make it seem weaker. If I or any other Ford Loyalist are going to buy a new truck, we will buy this one. If some Chevrolet or other brand Loyalist sees the Atlas and compares it to their vehicle say 1500, chances are high; they will lower their head and whimper a little. Then go to their local Ford store and trade off that 1500. If you come to market soft then the initial impact and shock to the market will not have that desired effect. No matter what it looks like, if the new truck looks anything like the Atlas us Ford loyalists will buy it. Come in to soft and that 1500 owner will just pass it off for the first few years as a face lift and then the shock is gone, the new F-150 looks normal to them and no change of brand loyally. Ok forget them becoming Ford loyalty, so they buy just one F-150 in their entire life, that one 2015 F-150. Their friends and family will see this. They will wonder what the ex-1500 driver knows that they do not. That doubt might be enough to make them go to their local Ford store and drive an F-150. Possibly, they buy a new F-150. Possibly, they purchase a Fusion instead. Still one more unit out the door for Ford, one more Blue Oval running around that neighbor hood. Interior: This is a nice change to the standard interiors available in most trucks. The seats in most trucks no matter the trim level are not very supportive. They do keep your rear comfortable most of the time. On a long trip, I personally have yet to find a comfortable seat for more then a few hours. The interior of most trucks has become common. Very subtle differences have evolved; all brands are looking to make the most high-end feel they can regardless of trim level. The Atlas interior takes this and tosses it right out the window. This is truly a game changer in the AUTOMOTIVE world, not just trucks. I am proud of Ford for taking such a large, truly huge step away from convention on this. I am not sure the feasibility of this interior, but if you can build it close or exact, please do. It will shock most automotive consumers. I am afraid it might be to polarizing for some. I love it. Might you have a standard interior and have this as a special option… WITH A MANUAL TRANSMISSION, SEQUENTIAL, OR PADDLE SHIFT… HINT, HINT… Speaking of Drive train... Drivetrain: Ok so you already know there is a limited market for a true three pedal manual transmission. I will give you that. However, what is stopping it as an option, even an extra cost option? Have that futuristic interior with a sequential, paddle, or even full manual as an option. Just a thought. The four-speed transmission is dead, and thankfully so. The transmission should allow for some...well…Spirited Driving one could say. When towing having that control is necessary. Please do not forget about those folks whom use the transmission to control the vehicle. In snow or slippery conditions, being able to control wheel spin, engine braking and the general attitude of the truck is necessary. Engine wise, “Twin Turbo 5.0 with a paddle shift. ‘nuff said.” Ok, realistically you know what to do with engines. Ford has been hitting that nail on the head repeatedly over the last few years. Keep it up! Suspension: The stance of the Atlas makes it look like a Super Duty chassis under and F-150 body. If the goal is a truck that will tow anything and crawl over anything, then perfect. Just make sure it is not top heavy. The world has enough Rodeos, sidekicks, and other roll over prone vehicles. Besides, I for one drive my truck like a car, and get the most out of the handling. Yes my 2008 F-150 FX4 5.4 gets used; it also gets well taken care of, a trailer queen she is not. Enough of me, back to you, Ford. Comfort, handling, and off-road ability, you know the triad, make it work for you. If these are mutually exclusive, then offer different trim levels. The tooling might be an issue, however I trust you can do it. FX4 vs. Lariat vs. XL is a huge difference and that worked out well. The Bottom Line: Ford you have the chance to make a huge impact crater in the automotive world with the Atlas. Please do not dismiss this correspondence as one person trying to influence a vehicle for personal gain. On the other hand, perhaps do look at it as such a thing. I am giving you my thoughts, ideas and opinions as a nonprofessional. I am however very loyal to Ford. All the trucks I have ever driven were Ford trucks. Ok so I did drive an Oshkosh, and an A.M. General for six years, but I was ordered to. (U.S Army) My first vehicle was a 1984 Bronco, 300 Cubic Inch Straight Six with a granny low four-speed manual and power nothing. I bought the truck from my Father for full Blue Book value in 1997 sick motor and all. When the engine finally let go I made a phone call and asked a friend for help, gathered all the parts for a rebuild, and called my Father. Well to spare you the details lets just say my Father was not around much as I was growing up. The whole promise to be there at one time for visitation after the divorce and never show up kind of thing. Therefore, when I finally had the engine assembled, and was ready to reinstall it in the Bronco I called my Father for advice. Well he told me to wait until he was there, as I was not smart enough, and would ruin the Engine and the truck. Needles to say the Bronco was running by the time he showed up. My best friend, more like a Brother really, came over after hearing this and helped me get the truck completed. That was the last time I ever believed I was not good enough, and the last time I doubted myself. 2001 I joined the Army and gave up the Bronco. I will admit I still miss Thunder. That Bronco is more then just my first vehicle. I taught myself to drive in it, yes taught myself, stick shift and all!! My Father was to busy running his driving school to teach me and would not allow me to go else were. So I waited until I was 18 and did it myself. That Bronco became a symbol of who I had become and was capable of. All of my vehicles to this day have been compared in some way to “Thunder.” Very much unfair to them. Every Ranger, F-150 and Mustang I have owned have all been great vehicles in their own right. The moral of this sob story is the reason I am bothering you. Ford is more then just a vehicle-manufacturing firm, and business. Mr. Henry Ford knew that, he understood that. He would want to know what the people wanted so he could make is vehicles the best not just in there market, but the world. By the way, Guess the color my Wife’s Mustang, and that of my “Beast” …., Black. Yes Sir Mr. Ford, I want mine in Black.
9 months(s) ago via
David I'm so disappointed that can't have it for two more years. I watch tis truck every day online I read all articles, my nerve system is fallen each time on videos I need to have it!! I want it. Good side, I have two years to save my money. OMG I think I'm in love :)
9 months(s) ago via
Joseph S My wife does not want this truck to be released. I have already told her the 2011 Ecoboost is going back as soon as the Atlas goes on sale.
10 months(s) ago via
Deb De Zarn Wow! I like both of the new looks. I LOVE my Fords!
10 months(s) ago via
Warren Wow. Does the Atlas have a retractable staircase so you can get into the cab? I'm pretty short-legged, so I don't think this is the vehicle for me. Also, I question the wisdom of putting the cargo lights in the bed. It seems like your cargo would block the lights and defeat the purpose.
10 months(s) ago via
john chambers The concept design is closer to what I think Ford needs.Narrow less wind blockage to cut down the gas mileage.You have trucks for work and towing,now you need a light awd truck for road and off road that gets real good mileage and a truck with a bed that looks off the wall. you need one truck to get people start thinking Ford good looks --good mileage---fun --rollbar targa removable roof ,Honda Element interior dog friendly with easy cleanup and priced right for young and old.change the image a little.
10 months(s) ago via
Denita G When is the Expedition going to get a make over I waited for 2013 to see if got a face lift now I am waiting to order my 2014 I hope I don't have to wait until 2015. I really want a new limited EL
10 months(s) ago via
Barry H I have been a Ford owner forever and I do not like this design! The grill looks too much like a Dodge and the overall body looks like a Hummer. Ugh!
10 months(s) ago via
Keith Practicality is every thing for serious users, it would be neat if designers used the truck Like serious end users. These trucks are tools and all the chrome or fancy stuff I don't see from drivers seat mean nothing, a truck that is user friendly for work assignments Would really help. k
10 months(s) ago via
Rick B ford only makes the best stuff fords rule chevy drools
10 months(s) ago via
Carygn I'm still waiting for Ford to replace the popular Ranger. Come on Ford, there is a hole in your truck line up.
10 months(s) ago via
David R I would downsize the truck about, say Dodge Dakota size, place a high-tech diesel engine in it and design it for multiple uses, not just a work truck but a play truck as well. I think there would be considerable appeal.
10 months(s) ago via
Elrasheed M This Truck expressing the modren Man as a show , but the same time its agreat strong lion when we talk about forests and off- roads , I do think the Truks of the Future will start from here (from this Atlas Version), Bring it on esteemed Ford Co , and let us take our Atlas Truck, we couldn't wait.
10 months(s) ago via
Greg O Please make the Explorer W/2'bed, or give us back the Sport Trac!!! GregO
10 months(s) ago via
Jus\' Me I am always amazed by the artwork of these concept vehicles. I just don't understand why I never see them on the showroom floor. I still wanna buy the Ford bicycle!!
10 months(s) ago via
Sherri I'm ready!!! C'mon Ford.....release the Atlas. ALL Ford trucks are, dare I say...SEXY.
11 months(s) ago via
Bill I think FORD has some of the best idea's in the world. Anything that has FORD on it is the greatest vehicle ever bulit. Some people think the bow tie is the best...HA!HA let THEM DRIVE A ford IF THE HAVE THE GUTS AND SEE WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT.
11 months(s) ago via
Tom M I test drove a Hummer that had the narrow windows and I felt like I was in a prison cell. I could not wait to get out of the Hummer truck vehicle. It made me really nervous.
11 months(s) ago via
Suzanne K I am not a truck owner, but I like the look of the Vehicle.
11 months(s) ago via
John M I Luv the Ford Trucks like i Luv my Mustang!!,,,,,All Fords!!
11 months(s) ago via
Jackie G i agree with Chris A. When is it due to be released? I would love to have this truck.
11 months(s) ago via
Ervin G can they do it in a ranger size, then add diesel?
11 months(s) ago via
Joseph T KEEP THOSE GREAT TRUCKS COMING AND KEEP THEM ON THE CUTTING EDGE...
11 months(s) ago via
Duane P I would buy the bullet train concept of the Ford Atlas in a heartbeat. Ford Motor Company should produce the Bullet Train Ford F-150 concept. Exterior body styling that can pierce the air/wind for better fuel economy, performance, and distance traveled.
11 months(s) ago via
Paul Y I can't wait to see this truck for real.
11 months(s) ago via
David A I know more about these truck `s then you and ford dose
11 months(s) ago via
Edward B Love the truck!! Just hope you'll give us better fuel mileage than is available with current choices!
11 months(s) ago via
Joe M Need a New Bronco !!!!!!!!!!!!!
11 months(s) ago via
Don P Need a natural gas version. I would buy.
11 months(s) ago via
Jeremy S The truck looks good, but i have many questions about all the technology going into the truck, would it take away from the reliability of the truck? I currently have a 2011 Power Wagon, and im not afraid of putting it in a mud hole, or tow a camper out on the beach. With these little vains that open and close based on what the truck is doing, makes me worry that there is a vulnerable fail point. Also with my truck having lockers in both front and rear axle, i generally have more confidence "exploring" the less beaten path, not even mentioning the 12,000lbs winch. If Ford could incorporate the winch and deal with the cooling of the diesel engine, then that would be not only a first for a Ford SuperDuty but for the truck industry all together. My speculation is that people would just rather buy a truck with everything built into the truck, instead of having to go and gather parts on thier own just to build the truck they want, also it would still give piece of mind because you still have a warranty.
11 months(s) ago via
Mark N I have been in the market for a new truck for a couple of years but keep finding myself waiting for the next new model. If you build this truck with these new features I will trade my Tundra for a Ford. My only complaint would be the interior is a little too Buck Rodgers maybe you could tone it down a little, but the exterior is an A+++ give the designers a raise!!!
11 months(s) ago via
Chris A Build it and we shall buy
1 year(s) ago via
tim Great looking truck! What about under bed storage compartment so you can put small stuff under bed that are lightweight and small such as atv riding gear and put heavier stuff on top like atv.
1 year(s) ago via
roger p this truck looks bad ass and i cant wait for it to come out
1 year(s) ago via
Ian B i think that the "do it all" truck would be a great idea, and that the First Aid Kits in the tailgate would be a wonderful solution to minor or possibly major injuries on the field. There is, however, Just one thing that i can think of about the current models. Cant you just upgrade the other Commercial Trucks, like the F350 or F450 to have the title of "Ultimate Towing Truck" or "Ultimate Hauling Truck"? I personally wouldn't make other vehicles (trucks especially) that would endanger the existence of vehicles that are REALLY good sellers, such as the F150.
1 year(s) ago via
dominic p Great looking truck. Would like to know more details though. But, this isn't the first concept pick-up Ford introduced that never made it to production.. I hope the introduction of the Atlas wasn't just to take the attention away from GM with their new trucks coming this spring. P.S. Ford if you don't bring a manual you won't have my sale.
1 year(s) ago via
Lori G i want one
1 year(s) ago via
Joshua M ford art looks great...Great article
1 year(s) ago via
Bart Pressley This is one truck,that I cannot wait to hit showroom floors. The truck men have waited years for this!!!!
1 year(s) ago via
Ryan P It does. But i need to find out the release date of the 2014 ford explorer
1 year(s) ago via
Ryan P when will the 2014 explorer will get released
1 year(s) ago via
Ron P MAKE IT ALREADY! Plz
1 year(s) ago via
Brian C When are they rolling out? I want one!
1 year(s) ago via
Kaleb McGary This sounds like a cool truck, good article, you guys ought to take a look into 4wheeling too, put together another rig like the ranger or bronco, someone ought to knock jeep off their pedistol. Just sayin
1 year(s) ago via
Terry P ur bullet train looks like a old firebird . as 4 the other truck desine put a round top back on it flat on the flex looked awfull .
1 year(s) ago via
Wayne C I would like a video jack built in to the rear view system so that I could attach a video camera to the back of my camper so I can have a better view as to what is behind me when I'm backing up as well as when going down the road.
1 year(s) ago via
Brad B Hey Ford! Nice set of wheels, but (should have known) we need a Ranger replacement truck. How about a mid-sized named ... Maverick.
1 year(s) ago via
Mike My F-150 does not have a handle to help me get in on the drivers side. I am handicapped and can still drive. Hope you can incorporate a handle into your new models
1 year(s) ago via
David G Good looking truck, nice for my eyes to see. The article mentions lots of things that I am looking for in my next truck. Fuel economy and hauling ability. Fords are the BEST BUILD trucks in my book. Don't let me down with what I just wrote.
1 year(s) ago via
Richard Dicky S I love all 4 of my Ford trucks
1 year(s) ago via
Richard Dicky S I really like the Atlas concept truck
1 year(s) ago via
Joshua M cool article...Ford rocks...
1 year(s) ago via
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