This could have myriad applications.
The Ford Maverick has only been on the market for a relatively short period of time but has already seen plenty of success. Buyers from other brands are migrating to the Blue Oval simply because of this attractive and affordable new pickup, and with the truck's numerous features and wide scope for customization, that success is sure to continue. Of course, one needs to continue innovating to retain existing customers and attract new ones, which would help explain a new patent recently uncovered by Muscle Cars & Trucks. Therein, the Dearborn-based automaker has filed for a new type of ventilation system specific to the bed of a unibody truck.
The patent (which was applied for in June 2020 and published 18 months later) speaks of a cab back panel that "has a hidden section outside the cargo area" and suggests that "an air extractor is held within the hidden section of the cab back panel." With a roller shutter tonneau cover over the bed, one could feed cooled or warmed air to the truck's biggest storage area. In another embodiment of the concept, the patent suggests hiding a vent in the back panel of the cab, but both incarnations use two vents or extractors to circulate the air, with one on the upper part connecting directly to the bed and a lower one going under it.
Since this is an air conditioning system rather than a refrigeration system, one couldn't store food items for the long term, but you could definitely go on a long road trip without worrying too much about your chocolate bars turning into milkshakes. Since the Maverick's bed is only around 4.5 feet in length with the tailgate closed, sleeping in the bed may still be more uncomfortable than in a tent, but who's to say that Ford won't release a slightly longer Maverick or add a passthrough to future models? We'll keep an eye open to see if the idea ever makes production, but either way, it seems that Rivian may have inspired legacy automakers to think outside of the box when it comes to adventure motoring.