Positives & Negatives: Ford Patents In-Bed Magnets

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

Hands up if you’ve ever wrestled with keeping cargo from moving about the bed of a pickup truck. Whether it’s thanks to an oddly-sized piece of kit or something with few tie-down points, trying to safely secure all items aft of the cab can be a trial, with enough rope strung around to trip up at least half of Cirque du Soliel.

Hey, if you can’t tie knots – tie lots.

Moldy old dad jokes aside, Ford has patented a neat take on cargo management. Their idea? A whole bunch of magnets.

First discovered by the gearheads at Muscle Cars & Trucks, the patent goes into some detail about how a series of magnets underneath a truck bed would help keep certain types of payload from making an unauthorized bid for freedom. Specifically, they call it ‘selectively actuated magnetic floor sections’ as part of a pickup bed having controllably magnetized areas for retaining cargo or attachment devices.

This is a slick idea. Imagine having a bank of switches – or a series of virtual buttons in an infotainment submenu – which permit one of four quadrants in your truck’s bed to become magnetized. The advantages when moving metal objects like appliances are obvious, with this technology providing one more anchor point for security. Ropes and ratchet straps will still be needed, of course, but this author will take all the help he can get tying down gear. Even tasks like flinging the kid’s bike back there would be aided by this tech, helping to prevent the BMX from sliding around. One could also magnetize wheels locks for ATVs to the bed, as an example of using this tech to secure new mounting points for non-metallic items like the tires on said ATV.

Of course, car companies patent new ideas all the time, many of which never see the light of production. They might go through this trouble to secure a new idea, preventing competitors from seizing on the opportunity, or the concept might simply be too expensive or impractical to place into mass production. There are all kinds of sensitive electronics on a modern pickup truck that would likely need to be shielded from magnetic fields, for example; one would imagine this would go double for an EV pickup like the Lightning.

Still, it’s an interesting concept. What do you think? Would magnetized bed areas be useful to you? Or would they simply hoover every nut and bolt out of your toolbox in the garage? Sound off in the comments below.

[Image: Ford]

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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  • Dr_Bob Dr_Bob on Feb 07, 2022

    Conceptually, stabilizing cargo in a pickup truck bed is often a functionally prudent, basic, common sense need for many day to day uses. Especially when longer range trips are involved. It would be useful to understand the magnetic rate of load-securing attraction? I would be concerned to avoid proximity of magnetically vulnerable, sensitive items such as computers with hard drives and integrated microchips; (etc). I envision many such errors in judgement occurring which will innocently result in costly 'oopses'. If I were the inventive Designer at Ford, I would consider taking this idea up a step or two. (Especially insofar as the Lightning e-truck is concerned) Useful to actually grid map both the 'Frunk'and the Box with a selection of either mechanical push buttons or (perhaps) touch screen contact points over the selected grid maps within the inside truck display. Something which would also be monitorable complete with alerts. I would integrate under-the-floor zones of electromagnets. Rather 'simple' to design into the contoured floor(s). Plus, exceptionally strong, secure grip. Strikes my idea of innovation which capitalizes upon tried & true function which is proven over decades. Cheers! Bob

  • Dr_Bob Dr_Bob on Feb 07, 2022

    ... I would integrate under-the-floor zones of electromagnets. Rather 'simple' to design into the contoured floor(s). Plus, exceptionally strong, secure grip. Strikes my idea of innovation which capitalizes upon tried & true function which is proven over decades. Cheers! Bob

  • GregLocock Not interested at all. Apparently I've got Apple car play but I've never used it in 3 years. The built in nav is ok.
  • Corey Lewis Probably worth about what they're asking, given its condition. The color combo isn't a desirable one, they look sharper in non-beige shades. Like two-tone green, maroon, navy, or gray. The end of the time when MB built its cars properly. No shame in turning up in a clean W126, they'll always command respect.
  • Lou_BC Another way to look at this is the upgrading of hardware and software. ...............The average length of car ownership is 10 - 12 years ....................The average lifetime ownership of a cell phone is 2.5 years. ................................................................... My phone will remain up to date, my vehicle won't. Especially if you buy a new "end of run" model.
  • TheEndlessEnigma "...we could be seeing a foundational shift in how Americans and car buyers see Stellantis products." yeah, I view Stellantis products as being off the cross-shop list. Stellantis is doing an excellent job of killing the Chrysler and Dodge brands and turning Jeep into something it isn't.
  • 2manyvettes 495 hp in a base C8 is more than enough. 800+ hp in a ZR1 is not worth the extra $60k (plus dealer markups). Unless the buyer is going for bragging rights. I remember when the C7 Grand Sport came out, and a reviewer got his hands on one and put it on the track at Lime Rock. His conclusion? Save yourself $15k and skip the Z06 and get a Grand Sport.