The greater community of truck-lovers and those who are truck-curious are still talking about Ford’s new smallish pickup, the 2022 Maverick. It’s $20,000 and gets 40 mpg, and is notable for being the first pickup sold with a standard hybrid drivetrain. It’s interesting! At the same time, it’s a pretty straightforward machine, without a lot of actually weird surprises. There is one somewhat strange technical design quirk it has, and I find it notable because it’s one shared with one of my favorite cars of all time: the old Volkswagen Beetle.
I didn’t notice this until a reader named Joshua emailed me to ask for clarification, and included Ford’s picture of the naked Maverick drivetrain for reference. Here’s the part he wanted me to notice:
Yes, that’s the 12V battery, and it’s nowhere near the normal, expected location, inside the engine compartment. Oh, and the flat thing in front of it is the larger hybrid, liquid-cooled li-ion battery.
In the case of the 2.5-liter hybrid drivetrain Maverick, that battery is jammed low and in the back, in a spot very close to where old Beetles had their batteries.
Look, here’s an air-cooled VW Beetle chassis, for reference:
I reached out to Mike Levine, the important Ford PR guy, to find out how this battery was accessed, and exactly where it was. Did you have to get to it under the bed, somehow, or what?
Turns out, it’s accessible under the rear seat, in the under-seat storage area. In fact, I think you can see the battery box in this press image:
That’s pretty much exactly where it is in an old Beetle: right under the rear seat, on the passenger side of the car (well, in LHD markets). One thing Ford did well that VW probably should have thought a bit more about is enclosing the battery in its own little box.
VW had a little plastic guard for the positive battery terminal, which you really better not lose because it prevented the rear seat springs from connecting the battery terminals together and getting nice and hot, possibly starting a fire in the weird plasticized straw/horsehair/whatever old VW seats were filled with.
So, yeah, a box around the battery is smart.
Other cars have had their batteries in trunks or other locations before, certainly, usually for weight distribution reasons, but the extreme similarity of the battery location in two vehicles as different as a brand-new hybrid pickup and an economy car designed in 1938 just pleases me, a bit.
I can imagine that at least some Maverick buyers with Beetles in their past may experience a bit of physical deja vu if they ever have to give someone a jump, from the side of their car, battery cables snaking out of the door, and connecting under that back seat.