Harkening back to its early days as a purveyor of horseless carriages, Ford Motor Organization has patented a no-frills folding car for these who want anything more than a bicycle.
Intended for developing countries with poor infrastructure, the patent filing uncovered by Autoblog particulars a lightweight, endlessly configurable automobile with a collapsible frame.
Ford describes the battery-powered automobile as a “simple, ultra-low cost, commuter vehicle” that “could generate a entire new worldwide market place, filling the value gap amongst bicycles and automobiles.”
Constructed on an X-frame with members that pivot at a central axis, the vehicle’s length can be shortened to fit into cramped parking spots. Ford lists heavily congested cities in China and India as a possible marketplace.
Designed to fit the user’s requirements, the automobile can be configured a number of ways. Passenger capacity varies from a single to six people, with the choice of a removable pickup bed for added utility. A tandem X-frame structure would let for a lot more layout possibilities.
Energy could come from an internal combustion engine or an electric drivetrain, though the EV alternative appears the easiest. The document describes electric hub motors or a conventional motor driving 1 of the axles, powered by fixed or removable batteries.
When Ford claims the automobile is simple, it means simple. The organization says the vehicle’s seats can be of the rigid variety, or “fabric sling seats made to attach to the vehicle cross-members.” Forget about adjustable lumbar support. And who demands suspension? The body structure can soak up those bumps via different pivot points. Not surprisingly, there’s nary a mention of cupholders in this patent.
Ford seems fairly confident it can make this sub-car for the masses a reality. The vehicle’s straightforward building and versatile configurations “create a business case the can profitably assistance an ultra-low sales cost,” the automaker says.
Even though Ford clearly has its eye on mass production for developing nations, the vehicle could find a home in other locales. The automaker sees the vehicle serving as a rental runabout at getaway resorts, or as a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle.