DETROIT--Ford unveiled its vision for the next-generation F-Series pickup truck, which isn't much different from the current model. However, the Atlas concept -- as it is called -- makes use of some interesting fuel-saver technologies.
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The full-size pickup concept was dramatically lowered from the ceiling during its debut alongside the new Transit and Transit Connect cargo vans.
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Next-gen EcoBoost engine
Ford doesn't give specifics about the Atlas' engine, but we do know that it makes use of a next-generation EcoBoost engine. That means that a turbocharged and direct-injected V-6 may be in the cards, but I find it hard to imagine a full-size Ford pickup without a V-8 option on the table.
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That engine is paired with a six-speed automatic SelectShift gearbox and makes use of an Auto Start-Stop fuel-saving system that Ford claims has been optimized for trucks.
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Active shutters and fuel-saving tech
The Atlas is equipped with active grill shutters. We've seen this fuel-saving tech before: shutters behind the grill close to restrict airflow and improve vehicle aerodynamics when maximum cooling capacity is not required, such as at highway cruising speeds.
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Drop-down front air dam
However, the Atlas also makes use of a Drop-down front air dam (not visible here) that lowers from beneath the pickup's front bumper to reduce air flowing beneath the body, reducing drag at high speeds. When the vehicle slows or when extra ground clearance is required, the front air dam retracts into the bumper.
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Active wheel shutters
Active wheel shutters snap shut at speed to reduce turbulence and drag from the wheel spokes when cruising. At lower speeds, they open up to increase brake cooling and a stylish look. The shutters are powered by batteries that are charged by the motion of the wheel.
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Trailer Backup Assist
Ford is also working on a few truck-specific driver aid technologies in the Atlas concept. Trailer Backup Assist helps drivers with the tricky task of reversing with a trailer.
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Dynamic Hitch Assist
A system called Dynamic Hitch Assist helps users to perfectly line up the hitch with a trailer without a great deal of the trial and error. Additionally, when the Atlas senses that it is connected to a trailer it is able to deactivate the Auto Start-Stop system.
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LED lighting is more efficient and brighter than conventional incandescent, halogen, or HID lights. So, Ford has equipped the Atlas concept with LED headlamps, tail lamps, cargo lights, and mirror-mounted LED spotlights. If a part of the Atlas emits light, odds are it's powered by an LED.
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The tailgate step (which slides out of the top edge of the tailgate and is not visible in this photo) doubles as a cargo cradle for long items. The tailgate also features dampers, so it descends slowly rather than coming crashing down when unlatched.
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Power running boards
Power running boards deploy from beneath the Atlas' side sills when the doors are opened to facilitate easier entry and exit.
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The Atlas concept makes use of a 360-degree camera system that gives the driver a birds-eye view of the area around the truck, which is useful for avoiding obstructions and obstacles. Presumably, this system works like Nissan/Infiniti's Around-View camera tech, which stitches together video feeds from four cameras located at each of the vehicle's edges.
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The interior of the Atlas also receives a bit of conceptual styling and design. An ergonomic "bullring" steering wheel sits in front of the driver. The cabin benefits from increased acoustic deadening for a quieter ride.
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Sync with AppLink, Ford's MyKey system, and Wi-Fi hotspot capability highlight the Atlas' projected cabin technology package.
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The seats are clad in a washable fabric and feature construction that allows them to be thinner and lighter.