Is Ford taking a page from rival GM? A new patent filing hints an Ultium-like EV platform could be in the works to power Ford’s next-gen electric pickup, or any other electric car, for that matter.
Ford’s CEO Jim Farley confirmed its second-gen EVs are “deep in development” almost a year ago. This includes Ford’s next-gen electric pickup, a follow-up to the F-150 Lightning.
Farley explained that the new EVs will be “fully software-updatable.” This means a “brand-new electric architecture” that will simplify production. “Imagine three body styles, each with volume potential of up to 1 million units and just a handful of orderable combinations,” Farley added.
Ford revealed the next-gen pickup, the “T3 Project,” last March. Farley described it as “like the Millennium Falcon – with a back porch attached.”
The new electric truck will be built for work and the digitally connected era. Ford is also launching an electric three-row SUV. Although Ford ruled out an electric Expedition, it will likely be a larger version of the Explorer EV for Europe.
Ford said the electric SUV is designed for road trips with a spacious interior and up to 350 miles range.
Although Ford has yet to reveal details on how it plans to power these vehicles, a new patent filing could give us some clues.
Ford patent shows new Ultium-like EV platform
The patent, filed with the USPTO, was published on January 2, 2024,. It’s for a “Vehicle Chassis with Interchangeable Performance Packages and Related Methods.”
Ford describes a vehicle chassis that can be easily used to build different vehicle packages, such as the ones Farley referred to last year.
The idea is to create “subframes” that can be swapped for different parts or upgrades. An EV battery platform is shown in the first chassis portion as an example. The first subframe includes an electric motor and suspension assembly.
Meanwhile, a second subframe can be added with another electric motor (dual-motor) and a second suspension assembly. Ford says the second motor will have more power while the suspension will be stiffer for performance EVs.
The patent also describes adjustable battery packs that can be used for various ride heights or functions, similar to GM’s Ultium platform.
The flexible structure enables it to be used for different vehicle sizes (length and width). Ford shows a pickup truck as an example but says it can be used for “any type of wheeled vehicle.” This includes sedans, coupes, vans, pickups, SUVs, and even ATVs or farm equipment. Sounds a bit like GM’s Ultium platform, right?
Like GM’s Ultium, the platform features battery pack arrays that can be added or removed for more or less power.
Ford’s next-gen EV platform is due out next year, so we will likely hear more details soon. Check back for the latest.
Author: Peter Johnson