There are plenty of reasons to want a 6×6; for one, they look epic; for two, they significantly improve a vehicle’s payload capacity and off-road capability. However, the primary way to get your hands on a 6×6 is by purchasing a conversion that comes with a hefty price tag. However, a recent patent filed by Ford could create more convenience for customers who might not always need a boost to the vehicle’s capability but would find the solution quite helpful when required. Enter the bolt-on third axle Ford patent that Carbuzz recently discovered.
Ford Bolt-On 6×6 Patent: Details
The patent details how a bolt-on system would be significantly more cost-effective for high-capacity trucks designed for existing suspension systems rather than developing and producing an entirely new suspension design to enable higher payloads. For example, Ford recently lowered the maximum payload capacity for the latest F-150 by 860 pounds because very few customers were ordering the upgraded suspension setup designed for improved towing capacity. If Ford were to implement this bolt-on third axle idea, it would mean the company would have to invest less in retooling its production lines or redesigning the chassis or suspension of the truck to keep ahead of the competition. As we’ve all seen, the more complex a vehicle is to manufacture, the more expensive it is, and the harder it is to mass produce, so this would work to be a solution to that.
Based on the patent, the design is meant to be relatively straightforward. Using a sleeved subframe, chassis extensions, and provisions made for alternative designs that work with or without a load leveling kit, the third axle could connect to the bottom of the pre-existing rear (now middle) axle. It would also work with a load-leveling device, and of course, the extended subframe would be capable of supporting an ever-important tow hitch. However, the patent doesn’t detail how the company plans to add a third axle without modifying the bodywork to accommodate two more wheels. As we’ve seen with the modular design of the Ford Bronco, having a removable fender for the bed that can easily be substituted with one made for the added wheels could be a solution.
Ford also details the idea of adding a bolt-on electric motor to the third “lazy” axle, effectively turning any truck into a hybrid. We’ve seen this concept on the recently unveiled Ford Ranger HEX, and it seems like a practical system, especially when it comes to towing when torque is king and fuel efficiency is practically nonexistent. It’ll be interesting to see if Ford turns this idea into a reality. As it stands, it looks like a bolt-on third axle will be the future of 6×6 trucks, even if Ford isn’t the one to do it.