Patents show how Ford could engineer a roofless Bronco.
The Ford Bronco is one of the most eagerly anticipated vehicles at the moment, and, like many, we're hoping it's every bit as fun and functional as the original. Ford is promising the new Bronco won't be watered down when it comes to ability, but something like a roofless option is incredibly challenging to do with modern safety legislation. It will need a roll cage, and we've already seen Ford putting in a patent application for a removable one. Seemingly linked to that are two new patents labeled as a Removable Roof Structure and Vehicle Roof Joint Assembly.
The patent applications specify the designs are for a five-door vehicle and includes "a detachable roof assembly including longitudinally extending roof rail." It shows that the lower and upper pillars would slot into each other and then bolted into place and attach to the windscreen's frame. The patent application for a Vehicle Roof Joint Assembly goes into more detail about how it would be fastened to the body. Ford also demonstrates on a graph the comparable strength between the removable top and a fixed roof. The experiment uses a metal plate pushed against the subject "at a slow but constant speed" and ends when the roof is crushed by 5 inches.
Ideally, the two structures will withstand a force of at least four times the vehicle's weight. In the tests, Ford says the fixed roof performed better but the removable roof still performed well.
As usual with patents, it could just be a case of the automaker exploring ideas. In this case, it will be whether the SUV can still pass safety legislation with a removable roof. From there, it's a question of cost versus what people will pay in order to build a business case for offering roofless driving as an option.