Ford is looking to patent new hardware for pickup truck beds.
According to a patent application published on April 20, 2023 (and originally filed Oct. 19, 2021), the Blue Oval is designing a pop-up bed rail system. Rails would be housed in the bed sides and raised up using actuators, according to the application.
This kind of rail system offers a few possibilities, Ford says in the application. Rails could help secure taller cargo by stringing nets between them, and they seem like a good potential mounting point for rooftop tents or other accessories, as other automakers and aftermarket companies currently do with fixed bed-rail systems.
Ford also proposes using movable rails in some more unusual ways. The patent application describes using the rails to lift cargo from the ground to bed height with a pivoting attachment, a bit like an in-bed crane. A pair of pivoting crossbars could also support a cargo cover, which could be made flush with the top of the cab to improve airflow over the truck while still providing room for taller cargo.
This is just one of several truck-related Ford patent filings. So far this year patent applications have been seen for a pickup with a midgate and fold-flat seats, a bed cross-member system that could allow users to winch cargo into the bed, and a solid axle with hub motors that would be suitable for electric trucks.
Ford’s rivals have been getting creative, too. Rivian has tried to patent a new bed storage system, and General Motors recently trademarked the Multistow tailgate name, indicating a new tailgate design. Patent and trademark filings are not proof of production plans, however, so it’s hard to say which of these ideas—if any—will move beyond the patent stage.
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