Several recent Ford patent filings reimagine pickup truck interiors.
In recent months, Ford has filed no less than nine patent applications with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) covering a range of features, including swiveling seats, a retractable steering column, and a fold-out work station that could allow truck cabs to be reconfigured into a hangout or work space while stationary.
Several of the patent applications deal with reconfigurable seats. Among the ideas presented are rear seats that swivel to face a fold-out table mounted to the back wall of a crew cab, and ottomans that pop out of the backs of the front seats, a feature that's more luxury car than pickup truck.
Ford reconfigurable seating patent image
A retractable steering column is described in a separate patent application. It would telescope inward when not in use to help free up more space.
Another patent application describes a fold-out work station for vehicle interiors. According to the application, the flat work surface would be attached to the underside of a seat and deploy when needed. The seat would also pivot sideways, so the person using the work surface would face one of the side windows. This appears to be a variation on the movable in-vehicle table patent from Ford that surfaced earlier this year.
The ideas aren't limited to the cab. Another patent application discusses fold-out seats for the bed. They would deploy from the bed sides, a bit like jump seats, according to the application. In all of these applications, Ford specifically labels the various seating configurations discussed as for stationary use only. The Subaru Brat was a car-like pickup with rear-facing bed seats in the late 1970s.
Ford in-bed seating patent image
Patented ideas don't always reach production, but Ford does seem interested in more flexible truck interiors. The automaker already offers fold-flat seats and a folding shifter that turns the center console into a flat work space in the F-150. It also filed patents for a dashboard desk and lay-down front seats. We're noticing a theme here.
As for where these features might be used, most of the patent applications include drawings of a truck with a cab-forward design with minimal space ahead of the windshield, similar to the images Ford has used in presentations about its electric truck plans.
Ford plans to launch a new electric pickup codenamed T3 in 2025. Both the T3 and a coming three-row electric SUV are designed as EVs from the ground up. Ford CEO Jim Farley called the T3 the "Millennium Falcon" of trucks. That would seem to leave room for some novel interior features.