The 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor is the third iteration of what is now an icon, and the pioneer off-road pickup truck. To put it another way, the F-150 Raptor invented a segment, and somehow went largely unchallenged until the launch of the Ram 1500 TRX; a full 11 years since production of the Raptor started.
That being the case, designing a next-generation icon puts the pressure on designers, but the finalized aesthetic of the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor appears to be a handsome “goldilocks” approach. Not too modest, and not too over-the-top. Then again, we haven’t seen the F-150 Raptor R yet.
Looking ahead, we asked Ehab Kaoud, F-150 Raptor chief designer, what the future looks like for pickup truck design.
“I look at design in general, and as I look at certain trends I think the interior is a big, big one,” said Kaoud to MC&T. “Because the interior there are so many new features – I don’t want to say dictating – but are reformulating the interior from an aesthetic standpoint, a technological standpoint, from usability. I think the interior of a future truck is going to continue to be revolutionized.”
Indeed, the interior does appear to move at the fastest rate of vehicle design. Some examples that demonstrate a quantum leap in regards to interior design and sophistication from the previous generation to the current include the Cadillac Escalade, JL Jeep Grand Cherokee, and of course, the 2021 Ford F-150. There appears to be no limit to the amount of technology, amenities, and finishing touches one can festoon into a cabin.
“We just started it with the (2021 Ford F-150),” noted Kaoud. “We’ve done so much research with what the customer is interested in. We’ve actually lived with customers for a time and watched how they used their vehicles. Based on that, we’ve come up with a couple things that we’ve put in place like the (Pro Power Onboard) generator, and how that works its way into the HMI.”
The 2021 Ford F-150 was the first pickup truck to introduce an onboard, integrated generator ranging from 2.0 kW on base models, 2.4 kW with the EcoBoost V6 and Coyote V8 engines, and 7.2 kW with the F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid. The high-output 7.2 kW generator is capable of powering multiple average American houses in the event of a blackout.
But it’s not just about being high-tech… integrating some road-trip comforts is something that the pickup truck segment is expected to feature more of. Again, the 2021 Ford F-150 introduced full-recline seats, and folding tray tables into the cabin of a full-size truck.
“The understanding that the customer spends a lot of time in their trucks and take naps in them… having the max-fold seat, that’s a big one,” said Kaoud. “The screen in a landscape position and not vertical, the reconfigurable cluster, the shifter, the table you can use as a desk… all of these things were based on research.”
“And even as the 2021 F-150 is coming out, we have OTA updates – that’s only the beginning when it comes to the interior,” Kaoud told MC&T. “You’re going see a lot more as these vehicles become autonomous, so on and so forth. Interior is a big, big one.”
Ehab Kaoud and his team at Ford are confident that they can stay ahead of the cutthroat competition found in both General Motors with both the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, as well as Stellantis with the Ram 1500.
“We just ended 2020 as the top selling vehicle in the market 40 years consecutively. That is big. And naturally, as we do that, there are certain things we have to watch for,” he said. “Naturally as you are the leader everybody is trying to catch up with you… we can’t rest on our laurels and think we can continue that way. And this is what is exciting at Ford and the management team that’s in place. We will continue to innovate and create to stay on top.”
With the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor reveal behind him, the perpetual hustle doesn’t seem to bother Ehab.
“The beautiful thing about America is competitiveness… that to me is a virtue,” he said. “And knowing that this is available and that you’re going to see the competition coming at you is a wonderful thing because it’s going to keep pushing us forward. That’s what we’re doing at Ford.”