Ford Patents the Simplest Car You Can Imagine

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
ford patents the simplest car you can imagine

Harkening back to its early days as a purveyor of horseless carriages, Ford Motor Company has patented a no-frills folding vehicle for those who want something more than a bicycle.

Intended for developing countries with poor infrastructure, the patent filing uncovered by Autoblog details a lightweight, endlessly configurable vehicle with a collapsible frame.

Ford describes the battery-powered vehicle as a “simple, ultra-low cost, commuter vehicle” that “could create a whole new global market, filling the price gap between bicycles and automobiles.”

Built 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 potential market.

Designed to fit the user’s needs, the vehicle can be configured a number of ways. Passenger capacity varies from one to six people, with the option of a removable pickup bed for added utility. A tandem X-frame structure would allow for more layout options.

Power could come from an internal combustion engine or an electric drivetrain, though the EV option seems the easiest. The document describes electric hub motors or a conventional motor driving one of the axles, powered by fixed or removable batteries.

When Ford claims the vehicle is simple, it means simple. The company says the vehicle’s seats can be of the rigid variety, or “fabric sling seats designed to attach to the vehicle cross-members.” Forget about adjustable lumbar support. And who needs suspension? The body structure can soak up those bumps through various pivot points. Not surprisingly, there’s nary a mention of cupholders in this patent.

Ford seems pretty sure it can make this sub-car for the masses a reality. The vehicle’s simple construction and flexible configurations “create a business case the can profitably support an ultra-low sales price,” the automaker says.

While Ford clearly has its eye on mass production for developing countries, the vehicle could find a home in other locales. The automaker sees the vehicle serving as a rental runabout at vacation resorts, or as a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle.

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16 of 29 comments
  • EBFlex EBFlex on Sep 25, 2016

    I guess it's better to focus on things like this rather than making cars and trucks that, you know, work properly.

    • See 13 previous
    • Vulpine Vulpine on Sep 26, 2016

      @Old Man Pants Oh, I am so glad I depressed you, Kenmore. Please give me the opportunity to do it again.