At the Detroit Auto Show, Chevrolet is unveiling their new 2014 Silverado trucks. Not to be upstaged, Ford is previewing their next-generation F-150 with the Atlas Concept today. The Atlas shows Ford's hand in what the next-generation F-150 will look like, offering updated design and more gee-whiz features.
The interior is designed with structural styling elements and features the latest in comfort, utility and refinement. Innovative, thin, lightweight seating allows for extra legroom for rear passengers. Floating instrument pods and glove-friendly buttons and controls keep the interior functional and ruggedly stylish.
Photos show some cool new aerodynamic features that help it save fuel. There are automatic shutters behind the grille which stay open when extra engine cooling is needed, such as during low-speed stop-and-go driving or while working in hot weather. The shutters automatically close to improve aerodynamics when cruising on the highway at steady speeds
A features that is less likely, but a possibility for production is active wheel shutters. Automatic shutters in the wheels are hidden to improve style at rest and low speeds, but automatically close at highway speeds to improve aerodynamics. Self-charging batteries use energy from the wheels’ motion to power the shutters.
Additionally there is a drop-down front wind spoiler lowers at highway speeds to improve under body airflow. The air dam is raised at low speeds to improve ground clearance, helpful for off-roading. Ford says these fuel-saving features alone save more than 2 mpg on the highway.
The cargo box and load floor has multiple tie-down points along with 110-volt electrical outlets to charge power tools or power other small devices. An slick integrated roof carrying system and hidden extendable ramps give the truck unique functionality for a variety of jobs. Ford has taken their tailgate step a step further by adding the ability to also act as a cargo cradle. In raised position, it can hold extra-long cargo items above the truck and freeing valuable bed space.
The Atlas Concept even has hidden cargo ramps. Lightweight, durable loading ramps stowed below the cargo box can be quickly removed and set up to assist with loading wheeled items into the bed – from landscaping equipment to dirt bikes
Trailer backup assist allows drivers to back a trailer with the twist of a knob. Ford research shows that backing a trailer is often the most intimidating task a truck customer can face. Couple this feature with dynamic hitch assist which helps precisely line up the truck’s hitch with the trailer coupling, and you eliminate maneuvering guesswork by showing visual cues in the truck’s center display screen.
Ford also takes a page from Nissan's around view monitor with its 360-degree point-of-view camera. A Ford truck first, the system gives a bird’s-eye view of the truck to help position the vehicle in tight places or when there are obstacles near the truck – such as on a busy job site or grocery store parking lot.
Styling elements such as LED headlamps and taillamps are included. LED lighting offers better road illumination than conventional halogen or HID lights and lasts longer. LED lamps also offer near-instant response, giving valuable extra warning time for following traffic.
The next-generation F-150 is due as a 2015 model, a good year or so away. The Atlas Concept is a message to truck buyers to wait a little longer instead of buying a Silverado. The next-generation F-150 is rumored to be 200-300 lbs lighter with the increased use of aluminum in the body and some structural components and 2-3 mpg more fuel efficient.