The 2024 Ford F-150 made its debut last week bringing a refreshed front fascia, more standard tech across the range, and a new trick tailgate. America’s best-selling vehicle didn’t get a full redesign, though it appears that an interesting suspension upgrade could also be in the cards for future iterations of the truck. Nothing is official yet but a new patent filing hints at how owners could easily turn their workhorses into more capable and practical 6x6 trucks.
The patent filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) was published on September 12 this year and describes a bolt-on suspension extension kit that attaches to the existing suspension of a Ford truck. The available drawings depict six-lug axles that appear to be similar to those used by the F-150. That doesn’t necessarily mean the patent is aimed at Ford’s most popular product, though it might be a hint at what the automaker is currently working on for its truck range as pickup trucks are mentioned specifically in the patent description.
The highlight of this patent, which was filed on April 25 last year, is the ability to add a third axle to the truck. Even more interestingly, however, that additional axle could be equipped with an electric motor and a small rechargeable battery, which turns it into a drive axle. Essentially, this upgrade would turn a 4x4 truck into a 6x6 truck with plug-in hybrid support. The manufacturer explains the conversion from a four-wheeled truck into a six-wheeled truck can be implemented without any changes to the suspension, tires, and driveline of the base vehicle. More details can be found at the first source link below.
Some of Ford’s other recent patent filings include an interesting idea where a small trailer has an electric motor and a battery package, which provides backup power for the towing electric vehicle and for tools and appliances. The charging trailer includes a trailer body, wheels and tires, batteries, ports for recharging the internal pack and providing exportable power, as well as electric motors and a controller.
Bear in mind that patent filings don't always mean an automaker is indeed working on a production version of the new tech. In this particular example, the brakes all appear to be drum and the driven axle uses a third-member style differential housing which is not what Ford uses in its current trucks. Most likely, the company is simply trying to protect one or a few parts of this system but not the entire system.