Newly uncovered patents showcase the Ford Bronco’s retro look at removable doors.
Ford is looking to return to its roots with the Bronco. Although the test mules feature a rounded, Ranger-like appearance (unsurprising, as the Bronco will share its platform with the Ranger), the final production model is expected to be boxy. And now we have a set of recently discovered patents that seem to confirm the Bronco’s rectangular look as well as its removable doors.
Patent sleuths at Auto Guide found unearthed these gems at the USPTO over the weekend. What we see looks a lot like a basic rendering of a Jeep Wrangler, albeit one with a tiny pickup bed and a spare tire mounted inside the tailgate rather than outside. Again, this is unsurprising given the Bronco’s old school look and its intended target of Wrangler owners.
Perhaps most interesting is the design of the tubular structure that replaces the doors when they're removed. The removable doors themselves aren't really all that impressive--after all, the Wrangler has been doing it for years. What is impressive is what Ford intends to place in the tubes to keep drivers and passengers safe in the event of a crash.
The patent describes how airbags can be placed inside the tubular structure to deploy when a crash is detected. High-pressure airlines would be run inside the tube to inflate the airbags and provide a cushioned surface to bounce off of instead of a hard steel cylinder.
Additionally, if the doors are totally removed and there isn't even the tubular outline protecting the driver, the patent goes on to describe how a telescoping tube can come shooting out of the A-pillar to deploy an airbag during a crash.
Patents aren't necessarily a sign of what we'll find on the finished product, so don't expect those telescoping airbag tubes to be a standard feature. It might be that Ford is still developing this technology and isn't ready to showcase it on a production model.
The Bronco is expected to arrive in late 2020 as a 2021 model sharing the Ranger's platform and powertrain. That means a 2.3-L turbocharged 4-cylinder with anywhere between 270 and 300 horsepower. We'll be sure to report more when Ford provides us with even a tiny drip of information.