Have we already seen the next-generation Ford F-150 pickup? The concept vehicles exhibited at auto shows have long been used to showcase designs and features that may show up on a production vehicle a few years into the future. More recently, the concept’s mission has begun to shift toward a sneak peek at a thinly-disguised production model destined to hit the streets within 12-15 months.
Concept shows many real world clues
Many insiders suggest that the Atlas Concept debuted by Ford in January of this year may be just that, a sneak peek at the next F-150. While Ford issued a questionable disclaimer stating that the Atlas was NOT intended to be an early look at the next F-150, the concept is too close to real world.
Except for a few surface trim pieces that wouldn’t be practical in everyday use and a few bits of eye candy tech to raise the overall cool factor, most of what is featured on the Atlas Concept is just too realistic not to show up on the next F-150.
Lighting the way
A key feature appearing from end to end on the Atlas is its LED lighting. From the headlights to the taillights, to the mirrors, to the cargo box, to the interior, virtually all lighting on the Atlas Concept is provided by LED lamps.
Well-proven on heavy-duty trucks, LED lights are beginning to gain serious momentum on the back of light-duty trucks and passenger vehicles. Given the benefits and practicality of LED lighting, it doesn’t take a crystal ball to believe that the Atlas’ lighting is a sneak peek of what will debut on the next F-150.
Stepping Up Cargo Capability
Less of a stretch, in more ways than one, is a minor modification to the F-Series’ already popular tailgate step that also serves as a cargo cradle.
As Ford increased ground clearance on earlier pickups, they created a problem with gaining access to the cargo bed. The simple solution was to build a retractable step into the top edge of the tailgate that would, when the tailgate was open, hang down a few feet below the level of the cargo bed floor, effectively splitting the distance between the ground and the cargo floor. Allowing that tailgate step to be extended straight up and locked in place when the tailgate is closed, creates a cargo cradle, a.k.a. the back half of a ladder rack.
Ford uses Green Power
The Atlas is powered by a fuel-sipping Eco-Boost turbo-gas powertrain, but rumors abound regarding the likelihood of a diesel in the next F-150. Cutting CO2 comes down to reducing displacement and using gearing to make up for lost power. Ford has used technology well to get every ounce of power out of smaller gas engines, but ultimately, the diesel engines offer more potential in that regard.
Is It Real?
The Atlas showcases several other goodies, notably some nice towing features. Most, if not all, are both practical and production-friendly, so cost would be the only factor likely to keep them off the standard equipment list for the next F-150.