Ford Atlas Concept – Birthing Process of America’s Next Best Seller

ford atlas concept early design sketch night darkHave you ever wondered what it takes for a modern show concept vehicle to come to life?  Here is a glimpse at the creative design process that brought us the Ford Atlas Concept, which was revealed at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show this January.  Redesigning country’s best selling vehicle is not an easy task!  How do you continue to add functionality, durability, and value without ruining what is already a best selling F-series?

You start with a lot of design sketches that explore all the possibilities.  Leave no stone unturned!  Ford designers looked to trains for inspiration on the next F-series.  This spectrum went from the sleek “Bullet Train” to the squarish “Locomotive”.  The end concept looks more like the latter and is more evolutionary than revolutionary.

ford atlas concept rim wheel active shutters
Ford Atlas Concept – Active Wheel Shutters in closed position.

Ford knew that efficiency of the next F-150 will be key, so the concept explores uses of light-weight composites in the frame and most other components.  However, engineers went to the extreme and re-imagined every last details.  One such detail is the “Active Wheel Shutters” feature on the Atlas concept.  One piece solid wheel design helps aerodynamics and efficiency, but the designers felt a permanent solid wheel is not aesthetically pleasing.  So engineering came up with this system.  The shutters “hide” when the vehicle is traveling at low speeds or is parked, and they automatically deploy at highway speeds to improve aerodynamics.  Indeed, no stone was left unturned.

Check out the image gallery below to see a selection of early sketches of the Atlas design study.  Notice the interesting early sketches of the tail gate storage compartment and the two glass sunroofs.

Please enjoy this TFLcar insider video of the Atlas Concept reveal at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show:

Andre Smirnov
Andre Smirnov

Andre Smirnov is a life-long automotive enthusiast, software engineer, writer, and reporter. He has been writing and reporting at TFLcar since 2011. When not working or spending time with the family – you can find him tinkering in the garage or scouring the internet and other media for various automotive, mechanical, and computer related information.