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by Jay Traugott
Ford is already gearing up for its next-generation F-150 pickup with its Atlas Concept, a technological display of fuel efficiency and utility.
Ford is wasting no time in letting chief rivals Chevrolet and Ram steal the spotlight from it in the full-size pickup truck arena. While its competitors have recently launched the all-new Silverado and Ram 1500, respectively, Ford is back with its Atlas Concept, a clear preview of the next-generation F-150. It may not at first look like a far cry from the current model, but Ford is keen not to mess too much with a good thing in terms of styling.
But the name of the game here is fuel efficiency and Ford is determined for its next full-size pickup to be an industry leader at this. Power comes from a next-gen direct injection and turbocharged EcoBoost engine which also introduces truck-enhanced Auto Start-Stop. This combo helps to deliver fuel economy gains of up to 20 percent and a reduction of C02 emissions of up to 15 percent. Aerodynamics also plays a key role in improving fuel economy with added elements such as active grille and wheel shutters that both close automatically when cruising at highway speeds. Self-charging batteries use energy from the wheels' motion to power the shutters.
Another nifty bit is a front spoiler that lowers also when driving on the highway in order improve underbody flow. There's a tail gate step that also works as a cargo cradle along with something called Dynamic Hitch Assist that can automatically line up the truck's tow hitch with a trailer. It's an overall intriguing package that combines high-tech goodies with the "Built Ford Tough" design approach.