illustration by the author, with images from Google Patents
Graphic: Google Patents
Truck YeahThe trucks are good!  

The 2020 Ford Bronco is still largely shrouded in mystery, but people keep finding technology patents that we really, really hope make it into the SUV’s options list. This three-position rolling ragtop is one of them.

On Friday we were discussing a patent Ford has for multi-modal “convertible doors” that looked amazing, and now I’m seeing that Motor Trend also spotted another cool Ford patent for an SUV’s convertible top that could be retracted and rolled up like a cargo cover.

Not only that, but in this concept, there would actually be two types of roof tucked away–one solid to completely protect you from the sun, and one perforated to bring in more natural light.

And as if that wasn’t novel enough, Ford’s idea here is that the roof could also be deployed aft-ward behind the SUV and held up with little tent poles to make a camp awning.

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At this point it’s important to note that, like the “convertible doors,” the existence of this patent does not mean this technology will necessarily make its way into the production version of the 2020 Ford Bronco or any other product.

But, wow, if this could be made to work in real life it would be a truly excellent accessory. Open air driving is fun, but having the sun beat down on you in the middle of the day gets tiresome. Folding a roof away can be a pain, too. A retractable roof like this would let you have a lot of wind without the mid-day rays, and be very easy to operate as long as it didn’t get clogged with dirt or sand.

Also, vehicle awnings are really popular aftermarket upgrades right now. The overland scene has made people more excited about car camping, so baking one into the factory equipment for a vehicle like the 2020 Bronco would make a lot of sense.

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Looking at these drawings, it seems like durability would be the biggest barrier to the feasibility of this multi-mode retractable roof. I’m not quite sure how Ford would be able to build this cheaply enough to make thousands of them, but strongly enough that it could be used over and over again without jamming or failing. Then again, I’m not an automotive engineer. I do love the idea, and I really hope Ford figures this out.

You can see some more images and the exact language of the patent for yourself on Google Patents.