Electric Ford F-150 (And More?) Secrets Detailed in Patent

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The patent describes a method of integrating batteries into a body-on-frame platform. It’s similar to a skateboard chassis that’s become common for all-electric vehicles, in which batteries are mounted low in the floor. In Ford’s application, crossmembers are mounted between the left and right frame rails. Those crossmembers provide distinct battery housings, and are additionally supported by a metal plate. This is noteworthy for a few reasons. 

Whereas in many EV chassis the battery pack is a single, large unit placed centrally between the axles, the crossmember approach allows the batteries to be placed in separate areas of the frame. In the abstract, Ford says a “plurality of power storage modules are disposed within a plurality of compartments,” which could have benefits for weight distribution, manufacturing simplicity, and NVH reduction.

Additionally, the conventional approach of placing a single, heavy battery pack in the floor can cause shear stresses on a vehicle structure. In Ford’s patent, the crossmembers do more than simply house the batteries—they provide reinforcement to the frame rails, helping make the structure stronger. The patent reads, “Each crossmember is welded to the left frame rail, and the right frame rail, and the plate. The plate is welded to the left and right frame rails.” This subsequently allows the frame rails (made of steel or aluminum) to be thinner and lighter.

The number of battery-containing crossmembers is defined by the length of the frame rails. This implies that longer trucks could have more power and range on tap. Is Ford already thinking about applying this approach to heavy-duty-sized pickups?

Ford indicates that a single motor could be mounted to the frame “forward or rearward of the power storage units,” but the potential addition of a second drive motor opposite the first is mentioned numerous times. Also described is an arrangement for powering each wheel individually, using its own motor.

Interesting about this whole thing is how it’s similar and different from what’s been displayed by Rivian, the electric vehicle startup in which Ford invested $500 million. Rivian’s skateboard chassis is also body-on-frame, but uses a more conventional large single battery pack, not the divided crossmember construction method described here. However, Rivian has stated that its vehicles will be available with individual motors for each wheel.

Perhaps there’s intellectual property sharing going on between the brands, and anything could change by the time their respective electric trucks reach production. Doubtless they’re locked in a release date race with the Tesla Cybertruck. Suffice to say, whatever Ford does with the electric F-150 will make it unlike any truck to ever wear the Blue Oval.

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