Home » A Pickup That Turns Into An SUV Via Your Phone: Our Daydreaming Designer Imagines How

A Pickup That Turns Into An SUV Via Your Phone: Our Daydreaming Designer Imagines How

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Consider, for a moment, the spork. Here’s an object that combines two dissimilar implements– spoon and fork–into one unified piece that attempts to do the job of both. The spork makes for a pretty horrendous fork, and as a spoon you can cause some damage to your lips if you aren’t paying attention. Still, having such a device beats the alternative of only having one or the other. The compromises of these types of products don’t seem to stop people from attempting even more. One possibly Nobel Prize-winning genius actually came up with the “sporkife”, which add tiny teeth to the bottom of the spork to allow it to perform the tasks of a knife as well (until it breaks in half after about thirty seconds).

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web restaurant store       

Automotive Sporks

The automotive world is full of sporks. A very good example is the idea of making a station wagon (or enclosed SUV) that can turn into a pickup truck. Likely the first example of this was the Brooks Stevens-designed Studebaker Lark Wagonaire of 1963. The rear window on the tailgate rolls down and the rear section of the roof slides forwards to create an infinite-headroom situation over the cargo area. The idea didn’t really catch on, to say the least, but it didn’t stop General Motors from pursuing the same idea forty years later with the 2004 GMC Envoy XUV. Buyers stayed away in droves the second time around as well.

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Wagonaire
Bring A Trailer (car for sale), General Motors

I mean, there’s many a Saturday morning that SUV owners wish they had a pickup truck to haul God-knows-what. Conversely, F-150 drivers would likely want more enclosed space at times instead. Why didn’t these do-both-tasks vehicles sell? Well, it’s pretty obvious that the GMC and Studebaker were pretty poor substitutes for pickup trucks in their open form. With the side windows fixed in place it limits access, and when in “pickup” format it’s not like you could take either of these through a rainstorm or carwash (even with the roof closed in the case of the Lark since they reportedly leaked like a sieve). Regardless, I still think we could make one that would work.

Unholy Alliance?

My basis for our “convertible” SUV/pickup is an unlikely source: an alliance between Ford and Tesla. Are you done laughing? Good. I get it–the Ford family will never want to relinquish any control of their firm, and Elon likely doesn’t want to deal with union and pension issues. Mark my words, though, that stranger things have happened. Ford is struggling to keep up with Tesla’s EV sales, but Ford could have had production Cybertrucks in garages by now with tremendous manufacturing capabilities Tesla still has to build or acquire. I mean, did you ever think a Big Three firm would use Tesla’s Superchargers? No, yet here we are. I mean, Ford leader Jim Farley spent years at Lexus, and if you’re my age you’ll remember when people were adamant that an upgraded, rebranded and Mercedes-priced Toyota would NEVER sell (you might already know this but Lexus turned out to be a success). Argue it out; that’s not what I’m here for. All I’m trying to do is present an industry consolidation that would likely create some strange vehicles; this could certainly be just that.

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Eddys Lincoln

The Triple Row Open Air Pickup

The first car Farley and Musk would present to the world: a Ford Lightning-based Tesla called the Model T, for “truck” or something else:

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“We are proud to collaborate with one of the first automotive innovators to give you the Model T, so named because the innovation shown by that pioneering vehicle inspired us to create an all-new class of machine together. Like the Model T Ford, our Model T will be a multi purpose product that could almost be all things to all people.”  – Fictional Alternative Universe Elon Musk

The Model T is such a different vehicle compared to the Cybertruck and basic Lightning that neither side will feel like they’re getting some redundant machine. There’s very subtle changes to the F-150 styling to “Teslaize” it and smooth it out, but what makes it special is the roof. What looks like a stylized roof cargo box combined with a ‘sport bar’ at the back and high intensity lights across the front is actually something much more. You can transform the whole vehicle with a touch of your phone.

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Ford

First, the Model T is a pickup, and I mean a REAL pickup compared to the GMC and Studebaker attempts.

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Ford

You can roll down the rear backlight for great ventilation:

Vehicle A1

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Once the window is down you’re able to fold the “midgate” back to allow access to the passenger compartment. If you fold down the back seat (“second row”) you’ll get an ultra-long cargo area from the tailgate all the way up the back of the driver’s seat.

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The back surface of the midgate also folds up to expose a third row seat that, as you can see, can be partially outside of the car to become a sort of “rumble seat” for nice weather.

Vehicle B

Where’d My Pickup Go?

Ah, but today you don’t want a pickup truck. You’d like to have a two or three row SUV. Grab your phone and Tesla app and hit “SUV”; the app will alert you to fold the backrest down on the third row seat if it’s raised and clear out any objects above the level of the bed top, but other than that just sit back and watch.

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Tesla

First the roof slides back to the end of the tailgate; once it reaches that point, a window rises out of the tailgate to seal off the back.

Vehicle C

Next, what Tesla refers to as “reverse falcon glass panels” pivot down from the headliner to fill the openings on the side of the now extended roof (again, why you need to have the seats folded flat to clear the windows). Congratulations, you now have an Expedition-sized SUV.

Vehicle D

 

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All of this seems to be rather complex mechanically, but take a look at the mechanism on any retractable hardtop offered today; those are easily as complex as this.

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Truck 1a

Certainly the cargo area in back when in closed form will not be nicely finished like in a standard SUV, but that’s a small concession. I do wonder if there could be a Dynamat-type of material put behind the bed liner to keep the interior more quiet when in SUV mode. Telsa could even offer carpet mats or what-have-you to make the interior in back seem more indoorsy. If that’s the only compromise, then this thing isn’t doing too badly.

Would the Tesla Model T truck be a Swiss Army knife, or would it be a vehicular spork? Worse yet, is it a spork with knife teeth on the side? You must decide for yourself.

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Our Daydreaming Designer Imagines A Rivian With A Ram Revolution-Style Third Row, Except Bigger – The Autopian

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Jon Benet
Jon Benet
4 months ago

Canoo comes to mind. Their designs and focus on utility really jives with the spork. Hope they survive. It’s a hard business being a new EV company.

Stephen Bierce
Stephen Bierce
1 year ago

Suggestion Box: What if Rover and Brabham got together in the Sixties before the Leyland conglomeration? Two-door ponycar based on P6; Two-door muscle car based on Series II P5?!

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