The 2021 Ford F-150 just got a whole lot smarter. On Wednesday, the automaker revealed new technology added to the popular pickup in the form of Onboard Scales and what Ford dubbed the Smart Hitch. Both are meant to make hauling cargo and towing equipment much easier for owners.
The scales are pretty nifty. Their debut marks a class-exclusive feature. As owners load the F-150's bed with whatever it may be, a digital readout displays on the truck's center touchscreen. Owners can also see the scale's estimate in the FordPass smartphone app. If you want to really show off a party trick, F-150s with the Onboard Scales also feature smart taillights that show the scales' estimates right next to the bed. No matter which display you choose to view, it's pretty smart.
The taillights illuminate a series of LEDs built into the unit in a vertical formation. When all four lights illuminate, the truck's full. The top lights will blink if you overloaded the pickup, warning you to take some cargo out. Depending on what variant of F-150 an owner goes home with, Ford bakes the payload rating into the system, so it's set to each particular truck taking options and various equipment from the factory into account. If someone needs to see how much additional items weigh, all they have to do is zero out the scale, which zeroes out the current load, and place something in the bed to see how much more stuff and things the pickup can take.
For the Smart Hitch, Ford engineers put a device in the hitch to measure the tongue weight when connecting a trailer. The goal is to distribute weight properly to help eliminate the possibility of trailer sway while on the move. Once an owner attaches the trailer, they can once again glance at the touchscreen, the FordPass app or the taillights for guidance. Weight distribution, overloading and hitch height information are all available.
Both options are now available for the 2021 F-150, though the truck remains in short supply amid production shutdowns due to the ongoing chip shortage.