A new patent application from Ford shows how a pair of outer door panels could easily attach to a set of integral tube doors.
It's no secret that with its forthcoming Bronco, Ford is aiming to go head-to-head with the iconic Jeep Wrangler in the rugged off-road SUV space. Like the Wrangler, the new Bronco - Ford's first in more than 20 years - is expected to get a removable roof and removable doors, for a true open-air off-road driving experience.
Now, a new patent application in the US shows one potential direction that Ford could go with the Bronco's removable doors, showcasing a unique design in which barebones tube doors are built-in from the factory, and fitted with quick-release outer door panels. Crucially, there's a lot of overlap between this patent and one unearthed early last year, supporting the theory that the Bronco will definitely, absolutely get a set of removable door panels with built-in tube doors.
This design stands in contrast to the Wrangler, which has no factory tube doors; if you want any sort of side protection from trail hazards with the Wrangler's doors off, you have to find something on the aftermarket or buy some from the Mopar parts catalog.
Removable doors are popular with off-roaders not only because of the open-air driving experience they provide, but also because they give drivers the option to mitigate the risk of damage to the door panels from off-road hazards and they enhance visibility around the sides of the vehicle. A tube door - essentially a tubular gate with no glass or sheet metal panel - allows for the same benefits while protecting vehicle occupants from potential tree or rock intrusions, and many places in the US require tube doors at a minimum on public roads.
Ford's patent application, published by the US Patent and Trademark Office just this week, describes a "light weight removable body door system" for automobiles in which the door's sheet metal, window glass, and many of the electronics are housed in a single removable piece. On the 2021 Ford Bronco, that piece would be secured to a tubular structure via "at least one quick connect mechanism," and the two pieces are designed to integrate mechanically and electronically with the inner tubular door structure.
It's a clever solution to the problem of simple door removal, and it's one that we're sure Jeep's engineers only wish they would have thought of.