It involves using the running board.
Built with off-road enthusiasts in mind, the 2022 Ford Bronco provides a blank canvas for owners to equip their ride with dealer-installed aftermarket accessories. Some of these add-ons are purely aesthetic, while others create meaningful performance upgrades. It may already have an expansive parts catalog, but Ford is still thinking of new ideas (like retractable exhaust pipes) to help owners take advantage of their vehicles while off-roading. In fact, one such idea was just spotted in a recent patent filing.
First filed in October 2020 but published on April 21, 2022, US Patent Application number 0118914 describes and pictures "Vehicle Design Integrated Sand Ladders" for the Bronco and Ford F-150. These sand ladders would serve various functions on the car and while detached.
For the unaware, a sand ladder is a metal or plastic device used to help a vehicle stuck in deep sand by giving the wheel a solid object to gain traction. While many off-roaders store sand ladders on the roof rack, Ford's patent has better use for them when they aren't deployed. The patent drawing shows the ladders being used as running boards and door beams, while also describing them being used as hood vents, grille inserts, bumper inserts, and tailgate inserts. This idea would make the sand ladders functional when driving on the road or off-road before getting stuck in the sand or mud.
Having the ability to store the ladders in multiple areas makes them far less of a burden to carry around everyday. We think this could be a clever innovation for the Bronco and F-150. Ford could easily offer these configurable sand ladders as an accessory option through its dealership network, though the idea is clearly still in the patent stage. With the more capable Bronco Raptor launching later this year, Ford has the perfect opportunity to debut this cool new feature.