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Ford’s Retractable Tailpipes Will Improve Off-Road Capability

Rendering of Ford’s retractable tailpipe/US Patent Office

When you think about what automakers can do to improve the off-road capability of their vehicles, I doubt the first thing that came to mind was retractable tailpipes. Yet, here we are!

Ford recently patented this odd technology in the U.S. and Germany with the intention that being able to retract the exhaust will give their vehicles better off-roading prowess, specifically in the area of the vehicle’s departure angle.

We’ve all been there – the approach angle is fine and the front bits of our rigs come through a tough stretch unscathed. But as soon as the back end needs to clear an obstacle, what tends to drag bottom? Yep…the exhaust.

Ford's Retractable Tailpipe

Rendering of Ford’s retractable tailpipe/US Patent Office

So, will Ford’s unique retractable tailpipes actually solve this problem? Ford seems to think so. But how will it work?

Patent Explains How Retractable Tailpipes Would Work

According to the patent, “A retractile tailpipe system may include an exhaust tip physically separated from an exhaust tube in order to allow relative movement between both components. An exhaust tip retract module (ETRM) is attached and fixed to the upstream exhaust tube in a rearmost possible position that may also act as the travel limit for the exhaust tip. The ETRM is configured to have an actuator, a gear, and multiple linear bearings. The exhaust tip includes a set of extension shafts that mate with the linear bearings in the ETRM.”

Ford's Retractable Tailpipe

Rendering of Ford’s retractable tailpipe/US Patent Office

All of this is controlled by a small electric motor that controls the gear that moves the tailpipe’s extension shaft. This enables the system to retract the exhaust tip when needed and move back into position when clearance isn’t an issue.

I have to admit that this seems like a pretty genius idea. Of course, the thing with patents is that the patented item often never sees the light of day. Will this retractable exhaust be available on upcoming Ford trucks and SUVs? I suppose we’ll have to wait and see!

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