Design Story: Ford Atlas Concept Truck
When creating the Ford Atlas Concept truck, Ford designers set out to balance function with style, and looked to several purpose-built designs for inspiration. Featured below are illustrations of some iterations for the concept vehicle.
Above is a bullet-train inspired truck with smooth, aerodynamic surfacing; the sketch below demonstrates a more angled, boxier locomotive-inspired design.
The final concept features active grille shutters and a drop-down chin spoiler for improved aerodynamic efficiency. Designers had to make tough choices to ensure everything on the vehicle has a purpose, while the toughness of the overall design looks good.
Early sketches show an extended windshield that continues onto the roof. The design is unique in that the windshield forks over the heads of the driver and passenger, giving a moonroof feel without losing a durable surface used for securing extra-large cargo.
While a stylish point, the above idea was ultimately dropped in favour of a more practical integrated roof carrying system to better secure large cargo.
Designers studied several options to provide maximum storage to customers with extra cargo needs. In one instance, designers looked at opening up the hallowed space within the walls of the tailgate for added storage space, possibly to carry a tool set and a first-aid kit.
Ford designers decided users of the truck would more readily need a way to secure large cargo like wood or a kayak, level with the roof of the cabin. As a result, the vehicle’s tailgate step is fashioned to also serve as a cargo cradle.
The wheels came down to aerodynamics. Fuel efficiency is critical to this customer, so designers analysed possible solutions, including complete surface wheels.
That design, while practical, is not a match for the Atlas, so new solutions were developed, ultimately leading to the Active Wheel Shutters that automatically hide to improve style when the truck is parked or traveling at low speeds. When the vehicle hits the highway, the shutters automatically close to improve aerodynamics.
Sometimes work starts before the sun comes up and keeps going after it gets dark. Ford wanted a truck that would suit the pace of such a lifestyle, so to provide customers with a working solution designers studied different lighting options, including lights from the top of the cab.
Ultimately, it was decided lights from within the bed would better illuminate cargo. The result: A high-tech-looking truck bed that lights up from inside its own walls.
The Atlas Concept earned Autoweek Magazine’s award for Most Significant vehicle of the 2013 North American International Auto Show.
From left: Ryan Niemiec, design manager, Ford Motor Company; Wes Raynal, Autoweek editor; Mark Fields, COO, Ford; Gordon Platto, chief designer, Ford; Andy Stoy, digital editor, Autoweek; Brad Richards, design manager, Ford; and KC Crain, publisher, Autoweek.