Ford designs an intermediate step for trucks

A Ford patent application for a truck center door step assembly has emerged, suggesting Ford could follow rival General Motors in adding this feature to its trucks.

As described in the application, published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on May 2 and originally filed by Ford on October 31, 2022, the middle door would allow storage of longer items in the truck beds. The bulkhead between the rear of the cabin and the bed folds down, effectively extending the cargo space into the cabin.

2013 chevrolet avalanche

GM pioneered this idea in the early 2000s with the Chevrolet Avalanche and Cadillac Escalade EXT trucks. This allowed GM to create cabins similar in dimensions to full-size SUVs of the time and include a cargo bed without having to lengthen the vehicles. However, there were some trade-offs.

Using the center door meant folding the rear seats, so drivers could carry many passengers or cargo, but not both. It also meant that the cabin could not be fully secured, as the step left an open space when in use. When the center door was not in use, the Avalanche and Escalade EXT had fairly small beds.

2024 GMC Sierra EV Denali Edition 1

2024 GMC Sierra EV Denali Edition 1

The center door was shelved until recently, when GM brought it back for its electric model. Chevy Silverado EV and GMC Sierra EV tablets. Both are unibody vehicles based on GM's Ultium EV component suite.

It's unclear if Ford will actually go ahead and build a pickup truck with a center door, but in the patent application Ford notes that the feature could be particularly useful in unibody pickup trucks. Ford is planning a new electric truck (one that was recently delayed, admittedly) based on a specific EV architecture that could be different from the body-on-frame design used by the current F-150 Lightning. The Ford Maverick gasoline pickup also has a unibody design. Only the future will tell if Ford will use a center door and in what model or models it could arrive.

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