The auto sleuths at the Ford Authority (FA) have been busy lately. Last week, they found a 2021 Ford F150 test mule in the wild. Though covered by heavy camo shrouding inserts, the enterprising car spies managed to see details of the next-gen F150’s new front-end and rear-end designs.
2021 Ford F150 ‘Speaks’ To Spies
The car spies also managed to make a second visit to the test mule where they were able to discern some changes to the pickup bed. The test mule has been driving on public roads.
The Ford crew did its best to keep things under wraps. As noted, they deployed heavy-duty vinyl camo cover-ups on the front and rear ends. They also set up a tonneau cover over the pickup bed to keep prying eyes from seeing underneath. At one point, the Ford team dropped the tailgate, and the car sleuths were able to get a three-quarters view of the bed’s interior. They could not see very much because the Ford folks also stuffed a grey camo blanket into the rear bed. The Ford team did its best to keep peeping sleuths from looking at the bed. The FA sleuths were just a bit better.
The sleuths were able to come away with some essential impressions of the tailgate and rear bed. The tailgate is identical to the current generation F150. “Looking over the photos [we took], we noticed the tailgate cables look identical to those of the current F150,” the FA sleuths wrote. Unless the Ford team was using a current-generation tailgate as a distractor, the fact that the tailgate cables are identical to current Ford F150s indicates that there are few changes planned for the tailgate.
2021 Ford F150 Features Familiar Tailgate
Also, the top of the tailgate was “also a familiar half-ellipses shape,” the car spies continued. This indicates that Ford is using the current tailgate design on the upcoming next-gen 2021 F150. For a vehicle manufacturer challenged on all sides by the rapidly rising costs of new technology, raw materials, and new parts, using as many parts as possible from current vehicles, makes sense. If Ford can reuse a part or parts from today’s F150 on tomorrow’s pickups, it helps to keep the cost of the next-gen trucks down.
Meanwhile, Ford will use continue to use its aluminum fabrication process even though the cost of lightweight quality steel has been dropping lately. You would think that Ford would jump at the chance to use more steel in its F150 body. However, it makes little sense to upend established building processes so Ford can tout the amount of steel in the body panels or elsewhere. Ford will continue to use the building methods pioneered four years ago. For 2015, the automaker made a considerable investment in developing and using an aluminum fabrication process. By using this process, Ford was able to save significant weight in its F-Series trucks.
Meanwhile, the auto sleuths pointed out to a fascinating large arch between the bed and the cab. Though camouflaged, the sleuths reasoned that this could be “some kind of auxiliary light bar.” It would make sense for Ford to include its light bar feature in its F150 series. They are popular with buyers. Indeed, a recent video from American Truck validates the popularity of light bar options. Please see our story tomorrow discussing five options that Ford F150 owners want. And, speaking of lights and lighting, the FA sleuths noted that the visible outline of the F150’s high-mounted stop-lamp indicates there has been a change to the stop-lamp, as well. The Ford crew did try to keep things under wraps, but the FA sleuths figured things out by studying the outline of the camo-shrouded stop-lamp.
2021 Ford F150 Faces Increased Competition
In the pickup business, competition is the name of the game. For example, Jeep has re-entered the pickup segment with its new Gladiator, while RAM continued to offer a less truck-like interior in its 1500. And, Chevy has continued its long-standing rivalry with its cross-town rival.
Watch news about the Ford F150 Pickups and the possible changes for 2021. Click To Subscribe To Torque News Youtube Channel For Daily Ford and Automotive Industry News Analysis.
For 2021, Chevy has increased the size of the Silverado bed. Ford met Chevy’s challenge and trumped it by increasing the overall capacity of the F150 bed without increasing the bed’s size. Ford likely made use of below-bed stowage as it did in the cab of the Super Crew (four-door) model.
FA’s sleuth work primarily discussed changes to the front and rear ends. Torque News picked up that story and expanded on it in a Torque News analysis of possible changes to the 2021 Ford F150.. The FA piece noted that the 2021 Ford F150 model would likely sport a new fascia and other front-end design work. The story pointed out that a new three-bar grille would top off the area between the headlights. The headlights feature a new, more straightforward design that offers a new LED lighting signature.
Marc Stern has been an automotive writer/columnist/editor/professional for more than 45 years. He began writing a weekly column “You Auto Know” in 1971 and continued writing it for 32 years. Now, semi-retired, Marc spends his time finding pieces for Torque News as the Volkswagen – and subsidiary – reporter, as well as pieces on pickups and SUVs. He has also been known to write a race report or two. Also, he covers more generalized auto news pieces as well. Marc has also written for the Examiner.com, Fixya.com, Gearheads.org and others, including some smallish publications -- Popular Mechanics, Mechanics Illustrated, AutoWeek, Automotive News, and Automotive Age. You can follow Marc on Facebook and Twitter.