Ford files patent for SUV fenders with integrated running boards and storage

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The Ford Flex disappeared in 2019, but its boxy approximation of the new Ford Bronco made it the ideal vehicle to use for a new patent filing. In 2020, FoMoCo asked for something that looks strategically designed for the brand’s new off-roader – replaceable fenders with integrated storage and steps.

The filing, released last week, shows a replaceable front fender that adds some utility. It includes a grab handle, tool storage compartment and built-in steps. Ford says in the patent that people could use the steps to access rooftop cargo or to attend a sporting event. The Bronco already has removable fenders, and it makes sense that Ford would offer customers something to replace them, although we don’t know if this patent will become a real product. But it should.

Removable fenders allow customers to protect their vehicle’s paintwork from damage and the SUV to squeeze through tighter trails. Ford has a slew of off-road upgrades and goodies for the Bronco, and a serviceable fender replacement sounds like a simple idea that could pay off.

Ford has dropped other off-road-oriented accessories in recent months. Late last year, a case emerged for a retractable exhaust tip, which could help protect it off-road or Ford could design a shorter exhaust pipe. The company has also filed a patent for an autonomous deployable drone that would work to scan off-road terrain. Both might appeal to off-road enthusiasts.

Ford will surely expand its line of Bronco accessories in the months and years to come as it learns what its customers want. A replacement fender is an interesting idea with many possibilities, including additional storage lockers or other features. There’s a lot in store for the future of the Bronco, which includes the high-performance Bronco Raptor that’s just around the corner.

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