Hiding in plain sight.
The battery-electric pickup truck could be a game-changer when it arrives on the market, assuming shoppers can forgive the limited driving range and relatively long refueling times. Those limitations might be difficult enough for ordinary consumers to overlook, but they're even more glaring for those who count on their trucks to perform jobs in construction, utility work, and the skilled trades, where the elevated risk of long downtimes might make the electric truck a non-starter.
The solution - a gas-powered range extender - has been around for some time now, but Ford might just have stumbled upon the best way to package one for the electric F-150's future buyers: dress it up like a tool box.
First uncovered by The Drive, a new patent granted to Ford on September 15 details an internal combustion generator made specifically for EV recharging, contained entirely within a movable, swappable package about the size and shape of a truck bed toolbox. The patent doesn't go into any detail regarding what sort of engine might power said generator, but it seems feasible that Ford's 1.0L EcoBoost three-cylinder could lose a cylinder and a turbocharger and be well up to the task. The block is already small enough to fit on a sheet of A4 paper.
Such a generator would be completely inconspicuous, looking not at all out of place in the bed of a pickup truck, not to mention compact, leaving plenty of space in the bed for other gear. In theory, it could also be removed to shed weight when it's not needed.
Of course, just because Ford has patented the range-extending generator does not necessarily mean that the automaker plans to put it into production. But given the demanding requirements of the job site, and considering that Ford literally turned the bed of the new 2021 Ford F-150 into a mobile workbench complete with 120-volt outlets, we would be surprised if the automaker didn't end up turning this patent into a saleable product.