Ford has made no secret that it has an electric F-150 in the works, but it hasn’t yet said exactly how it will work.
The patent doesn’t call out the F-150 by name, but describes a body-on-frame electric vehicle with a battery pack integrated within the frame. The cells are installed between the side rails in compartments created by metal crossmembers and a protective plate underneath.
According to the description, the extra structure helps strengthen the frame, which could allow the main rails to be thinner to offset some of the weight added by the batteries. The all-wheel-drive platform also has a motor mounted at each axle and a power control unit in front of the dashboard.
Photos of prototype electric F-150s that have been released appear to show it using a similar design, which would should allow it to share many parts with the conventional versions of the truck when it goes on sale, possibly as early as 2021.
That’s about the same time Tesla is planning to launch its electric Cybertruck pickup, which is being developed with a stainless steel unibody “exoskeleton” that the automaker says will eliminate the need for the traditional body-on-frame design while still offering the sort of capability expected from a full-size truck.
Tesla also said it's still working out how to build such a thing.