Report: Ford Patents Powered Roof Rack System

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

report ford patents powered roof rack system

While it’s fairly common to hear people argue about the true usefulness of modern automotive features, there are some inclusions nobody seems to mind. Automakers cannot seem to add enough places for people to plug in electrical devices. Parents want USB ports for the entire family, pickup truck owners want outlets tucked into the bed, and people doing vehicle modifications want a simple way to power the accessories they probably didn’t need but decided to buy anyway.

To that effect, Ford has patented a powered roof rail system that seems custom-made for proprietary accessories requiring electricity and it doesn’t even sound like it’ll be all that hard to install.

Based on reporting by CarBuzz, which appears to be watching the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) like a hawk these days, Ford has filed for a roof rack system that would allow for powered accessories to be easily integrated by the vehicle’s owner. While it’s unknown which models Ford thinks would be a good candidate for hardware like this, it seems likely that it would be reserved for the brand’s SUVs and pickups – as the device appears as though it needs to be bolted onto the mounts for a preexisting roof rack.

Once affixed, a “connector mechanically connects to an electrically-powered accessory to vehicle structure.” The patent also explains that any mounted accessories will be locked into the unit. This presumably means attached items will be harder for thieves to steal while also being easier for drivers to manage with the help of a key – as the locking mechanism also closes the circuit.

As is always the case with patent filings, the finer details are left a little vague. But the unit sounds as though it’s designed to be simple, modular, and open up the door to a load of Ford-branded accessories that cater to people wanting to make their vehicle more outdoorsy.

From CarBuzz:

The filing also indicates that the system could be installed with relative ease, so this would not be the sort of accessory requiring you to visit the dealer each time you want it on the car. Roof racks on a car tend to add to wind noise and can hamper fuel efficiency, so you wouldn't necessarily want them on your vehicle at all times.
Ford may or may not introduce this as part of a new range [of] accessories in the near future. Still, it seems to believe that this patent design has other potential applications, noting that this powered rack assembly need not be limited to accessories on the upper part of a vehicle. Perhaps this could form the basis for bed-mounted accessories on civilian trucks.
Alternatively, it could facilitate specific add-ons that park rangers, mobile service technicians, or firefighters might need. Either way, it seems that startups like Rivian, which created the Camp Kitchen and Gear Tunnel, may have inspired legacy automakers to consider novel ways of making future products more capable than ever before.

The outlet also mentioned that Ford had previously applied for patents on a sliding, removable crossbar that holds a robotic arm and winch designed to help load and organize objects into truck beds. While that unit has more specific applications and is less likely to hit the consumer market, one could imagine how these two might be paired together. Its very existence also appears to show where the Blue Oval’s mind is in terms of future factory accessories.

In fact, we saw the brand showcasing loads of roof-mounted accoutrements at the 2022 SEMA show. This included the Bronco Sport Off-Roading Heritage concept (a collaboration with Yakima and Hypertech) that's pictured at the top of this article.

If packaged smartly, this seems like it could be a lucrative product for the company. Activity vehicles are quite fashionable at present and – whether you’re driving to an isolated camping site or puttering around New York City – it has become relatively common to see vehicles with raised suspensions, roof-mounted lights, and even winches. Ford could take a meaningful bite out of that space if it manages to get this roof system to market as outlined in the patent filing.

[Images: Ford; USPTO]

Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by  subscribing to our newsletter.

Join the conversation
3 of 4 comments
  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Mar 15, 2023

    Well it looks to me like they are installing a steam boiler on the roof. Should certainly be reliable, but I wonder about the amperage draw.

  • InCogKneeToe InCogKneeToe on Mar 16, 2023

    Overly Complicated Rack System, that does what any Aftermarket System would do with a little "Person Power" for 1/4 the price, an do it better. Anyone recall the "No Boundaries Roof Rack" on the early Escapes? I had just started selling Fords, and there was 1 Escape sitting forever on the lot with that rack. Making it Over Priced, the other Sales People wouldn't even show it.

    The OEM's have battled the Aftermarket for a long time, we even have Manufacture Accessory Reps visit the Dealership often, and no Reps from Sales, Service or Parts

  • Wolfwagen I worked for a few companies that have used Transit Connects for service or delivery and of course as Cabs in NYC (NV200 are the best cabs in NYC- plenty of legroom). I had never seen one as a passenger vehicle until a few months ago when I saw one at the local HD parking lot. It looked great for a small family or even an active couple that needs secure storage. However, I have never seen any advertisement from Ford for this model/trim
  • Bike It's a bizarre conversation, for us folks outside the US.
  • RICK Once had 78 TOWN COUPE and wish I had never let it go! Ultimate OTT excessive luxury! Have since had RWD FLEETWOODS, RWD Fifth Avenues ,as well as 89 Lincoln Town Car Signature Series and current 2007 TOWN CAR Signature Limited! All great cars, but 77 through 79 was KING 🤴 of the road! So sad to see what is now considered a luxury vehicle 😢. Who wants to drive a glorified truck 🚚?
  • Kwik_Shift There are better cars to drop $80G on.
  • 28-Cars-Later Opulence!