A surprise concept that surprises

2013 Ford Atlas conceptAs with the Greek mythological character Atlas, Ford’s like-named concept bore quite the weight on it’s back. It was the Blue Oval’s main attraction at the North American International Auto Show, the same event at which Chevrolet unveiled its seventh-generation Corvette. Adding more pressure, Chevy and GMC were displaying their next-generation 2014 Silverado and Sierra trucks, unveiled only weeks prior.

Ford has some formidable marketing talent though and used the element of surprise to maximize the Atlas’ impact. No one knew it was coming. That is, until it descended from the ceiling before an awestricken press. But don’t allow my lauding their cunning tactic to imply the Atlas on its own couldn’t impress. Au contraire.

Happy birthday F-Series
1948 Ford F-SeriesBesides the intense battle for the spotlight at Detroit’s NAIAS this year, Ford had at least two other motivating factors for creating and presenting the Atlas. One is, 2013 marks the 65th year Ford has offered the F-Series model, America’s best selling vehicle for almost 30 consecutive years.

The second has to do with wanting to retain that best-selling title. The F-Series is in its twelfth generation which was introduced for the 2009 model year. Only a couple of decades ago it would have been quite normal to expect another half-decade to pass waiting for a replacement. But now the segment is far more competitive which essentially mandates shorter model runs and a bevy of innovative features to retain or lure customers to the brands.

2013 Ford Atlas conceptUnlike the Atlas’ introduction, it’s no secret that the concept truck is a preview of things to come in the thirteenth generation F-Series. What’s still not entirely clear is what model year it will be; most likely a 2015 which could be introduced in less than a year’s time.

Like most concepts that are used to foretell an upcoming production model, the Atlas is awash in possible but not probably whiz-bang gadgetry and far-fetched features. But that’s what makes concepts so interesting.

The cool and the curious
I’m a real sucker for creative lighting, always have been. When I was young and came across a product that put on a good light show, I was mesmerized and sold. Everything from lava lamps to graphic equalizers were an attention-getter.

2013 Ford Atlas concept headlight tail light

Unfortunately, when I was young there wasn’t a whole lot of effort put into automotive lighting. But that too has changed.

The lighting you see pictured above, from the bow and stern of the Atlas, are light-emitting diode (LED) type. LEDs offer better road-lighting at the front than conventional halogen or even high-intensity discharge (HID) units, and all-around are very efficient, last longer and illuminate more quickly.

2013 Ford Atlas concept lighted mirrorI think chances are slim these expensive units will make production. Regardless, they look cool.

The translucent, hard-candy-like colored surrounds look phenomenal the way they convey light. Even if the production truck’s units are inspired by this design, I think the exposed surface elements will likely be encased in some type of lens. Those crevices would cake-up rather quickly in snowy or muddy conditions which could affect their performance. I think it looks fantastic though.

Above right is an LED spotlight that has been designed into the outside mirrors for increased forward visibility. Below are yet more LEDs, this time installed under the cargo box lip for nighttime assistance. Because they are LEDs, they draw less power than standard bulbs reducing the load on the electrical system.

2013 Ford Atlas concept lighted cargo box

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