Ford patents retracting exhaust tips to improve off-road capacity

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Ford is investing a considerable amount of money into developing electric cars, but it's not done improving its gasoline-powered models. It patented an innovative power-extendable exhaust outlet that was designed to increase the departure angle of a truck or an SUV.

Ground clearance is important in the off-roading community, but it's not the only metric that tells you how far off the beaten path you'll be able to go. The approach, breakover, and departure angles can collectively make the difference between getting stuck and getting home. To that end, Ford's invention is designed to move the exhaust tip out of the way to put more space between an obstacle and a vehicle's rear end.

Spotted by CarBuzz, and assigned number US2021310400A1 by the United States Patent Office, the device essentially consists of an exhaust tip, an exhaust pipe, and a power-operated module that includes an electric motor, gear, and several bearings. The tip presumably pokes out from under the rear bumper in normal driving conditions. Off the road, the module moves the exhaust tip back to make the rear bumper the lowest-hanging part of the vehicle. Ford noted that the exhaust system's length can be reduced even while the car is moving.

How the exhaust tip would be adjusted is up in the air, but several possibilities come to mind. Ford could connect the system to a button on the center console, for example, or to a menu in the infotainment system's touchscreen. Alternatively, the exhaust tip could automatically move back when the driver engages an off-road-focused driving mode. Linking it to the navigation system isn't impossible, either.

Ford hasn't commented on the patent filing. Keep in mind that images published by the patent offices around the world are never a guarantee that a feature will see the light of day that awaits at the end of a production line in the foreseeable future. Carmakers often patent ideas ranging from mild to wild simply to protect their intellectual property; for example, General Motors patented a pneumatic foot massager in 2021, and Volvo floated a steering wheel that can slide across the dashboard in a moment's notice thanks to by-wire technology.

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