Ford Motor Company has filed a patent for body panels with flexible fabric that could be used in future Ford vehicles, Ford Authority has learned.
The patent was filed on May 27th, 2023, published on August 8th, 2023, and assigned serial number 11718354.
The Ford Authority Take
With off-roading become more and more popular, many automakers – not to mention aftermarket companies – have worked on devising ways to protect a vehicle’s body and paintwork in the likely event that it comes into contact with things like tree branches, brush, or various other objects. Just a couple of days ago, Ford Authority spotted a 2024 Ford Ranger prototype out testing with Rhinohide armor on its bedsides – which is a two millimeter ABS panel designed to protect those panels from such damage – and now, the automaker itself has filed a patent for body panels with flexible fabric that could be used in future Ford vehicles.
According to this filing, the flexible fabric material covering these body panels would provide a “resilient, lightweight, and customizable body panel,” which in this case is depicted in the form of a pickup’s bedsides, but could presumably be used on all types of vehicles. This could consist of one or more layers of flexible fabric in place of a traditional metal body panel, one made from an ultra-high molecular weight polyurethane.
The purpose of such a panel is simple – to prevent damage from occurring in the event that the vehicle strikes another object. Ford notes that this would pertain mostly to off-roading, but flexible fabric panels could obviously also help prevent damage when things like other car doors or shopping carts come into contact with them – making it a pretty enticing idea that could wind up being used in future Ford vehicles.