Ford yanked the covers off a new concept model at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show on Tuesday morning showcasing the brand's evolved styling language but more importantly, its future vision for pickup trucks and how they'll improve fuel economy.
The Blue Oval won't say (yet) if the new EcoBoost-powered Atlas Concept directly previews the next generation of its best-selling F-150 series, but the truck's size and overall presence suggests that it does.
“The Ford Atlas Concept previews the innovations that will transform what people expect from their pickup,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development. “With 36 years as America’s best-selling pickup, we are absolutely committed to setting the agenda in the truck market.”
While the exterior design of the Atlas Concept aptly evolves Ford's current DNA, the devil is in the details with the automaker making use of an assortment of active aerodynamic elements to reduce wind resistance.
These include Active Grille and Wheel Shutters that stay open at low speeds and close on the highway to improve aerodynamics. In addition, self-charging batteries that use energy from the wheels’ motion power the shutters. There's also a drop-down, front wind spoiler that lowers at highway speeds to improve underbody airflow and detracts at low speeds to improve ground clearance as well as auto-deploying running boards.
Ford states that the combination of these fuel-saving features "saves more than 2 mpg on the highway without diminishing towing or hauling capability".
For its motivation, the Atlas Concept features a next-generation EcoBoost powertrain, which gains a truck-enhanced Auto Start-Stop engine shutoff technology to better its fuel economy numbers. Ford did not provide any other details about the powertrain.
According to Ford, it's designers also enhanced the truck's functionality, while creating new advanced features such as multiple tie-down points housed within the cargo box walls and load floor, an integrated roof carrying system and hidden extendable ramps.
Inside, highlights include thin, lightweight seating that add extra legroom for rear passengers along with integrated storage for smaller items
“We wanted the concept to reflect how Ford trucks help customers in both their worlds – professionally and personally,” said J Mays, Ford group vice president and chief creative officer. “Every surface and feature in the vehicle has been crafted for purpose and capability while retaining an unmistakable Built Ford Tough look.”
Other key features introduced on the Atlas include a 360-Degree Point-of-View Camera, LED headlamps, tail lamps, cargo box and side mirror lighting, and a new tail-gate design that can also act as a cargo cradle lifting and holding extra-long cargo items above the truck.