Ford Designs Illuminated Fender With Unique Storage Solution

Scoop / 13 Comments

This is an interesting and very unusual invention.

Adventurous drivers who enjoy the great outdoors are practically minded people who choose features based on their benefit more than their cosmetic appeal. To that end, we've seen a number of innovative storage solutions in off-roaders and so-called lifestyle vehicles. Rivian's Gear Tunnel is a good example, as is the Multi-Flex Midgate seen on Chevrolet's electric Silverado. Ford has also been innovating similarly of late.

We recently discovered a clever tailgate design from the Blue Oval, but that's not Dearborn's last word on unconventional storage solutions. New patent filings uncovered by CarBuzz show a front fender that is now something more.

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USPTO
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According to the documentation filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Ford is making fenders more functional. The drawings depict the long-dead Flex, but we assume that the idea would be best utilized in something like the Ford Bronco. To explain why the Bronco is a good fit, we first have to unpack what this patent is all about.

First of all, Ford speaks of a replaceable outer panel for the fender. With a hollow design, the area behind this panel can be used as additional storage, specifically for dirty items you wouldn't want in the cabin. Ford gives the example of a small shovel, something that off-roading enthusiasts like Bronco owners would certainly have use for.

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The area inside the fender could be compartmentalized to allow multiple items to be stored and could feature steps strong enough to stand on, but there's something more.

Ford speaks of providing illumination within this area so that you can see what you've packed and where, but while traditional lighting is considered in the patent, the automaker also lists phosphorous materials. What is proposed is that the entire fender could be coated in a so-called glow-in-the-dark paint, which could emit light drawn from either an ultraviolet LED fitting or another electrical source.

Ford also speaks of the outer body panel's phosphor material being charged from the outside through sunlight, but wait, there's more!

2021-2022 Ford Bronco Forward Vision CarBuzz
2021-2022 Ford Bronco Forward View Ford

Ford could have stopped at using phosphorous material for interior illumination of the fender storage area, but instead, the idea has snowballed. Ford also notes that "long persistent phosphor can emit amber colored light" and that "short persistent phosphor stops emitting light very quickly."

The filing goes on to say that one type of phosphor could emit light in a first color while another could emit a different color. Thus, the patent suggests that a short persistent phosphor-painted area of the fender could act as an auxiliary turn signal. It seems a bit gimmicky and pointless, but in the future, we could have body panels that look green, for example, most of the time, and then have parts of them magically flash amber when turning. Sure, there's no mention of added safety or increased reliability with such an invention, but Ford does mention aesthetics. Hopefully, if this tech ever becomes mainstream, it will be introduced in a way that doesn't remind us of early Fast & Furious cars' lighting.

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