What Will Future Pickup Trucks Look Like?

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Nobody knows what the future is going to look like, but there are those futuristically minded automotive designers that like to take a whack at it every once and while.

For instance, one of the most prestigious and biggest future design contests is the Michelin Challenge Design, which chose for its 2018 competition theme, "Mobility/Utility/Flexibility -- Designing for the Next Global Revolution." This meant that contestants from around the world were going to be redesigning the three-box pickup truck. More than 1,200 registrants were submitted this year representing 73 countries, with the top two finishers from the U.S. And we're told over the last 17 years of the contest, more than 12,000 entries have been sent in from 126 countries. Judges for this event included designers from Ford, GM and Nissan as well as a four-time winner of the Baja 1000, Rob MacCachren, and Stewart Reed of the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, Calif.

As you can see from the photos below, some of the designs are quite futuristic but do provide hints about what these futurists are thinking about. Clearly, their minds are focused on (mostly commercial-use) function and practicality, abandoning the part of the automotive industry where pickups sit, serving personal-use buyers, outdoor lovers and families. It will be interesting to see how that gets reconciled in the years and decades to come.

On a similar topic, we recently had the chance to talk to one such millennial designer at the ArtCenter College of Design Car Classic 2017, a select car show that takes place on the campus of the ArtCenter in Pasadena each year. Edmund is a recent graduate from the college's automotive design department and did internships with both Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Volkswagen Group while finishing his degree.

For his final project, he created a four-wheeling Jeep concept that utilizes some clever exterior shapes, largely based on the opportunities afforded him from a diesel-electric powertrain platform. His inspiration came from several experiences he and his friends had while camping when their vehicles (we won't say which brand) got stuck in the sand. He wanted his vehicle design to be able to navigate different kinds of terrain with a group of his buddies while providing all of the capability and function of a pickup truck. Of course, he's hoping to end up at company that will allow him to flush out his designs.

Where the design of the next evolution in pickup truck design comes from is anyone's guess, but if what we're seeing from competitions like the Michelin Challenge Design and the ArtCenter College of Design are any indication, there is more than enough creativity out there in the world to keep us guessing for years to come. Our hope is that they don't forget about the fact that there are plenty of people out here spending good money to drive vehicles that have to do many kinds of work and play.

Cars.com photos by Mark Williams; Michelin images

 

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Comments

Turn off the video games and walk away slowly

But I thought the future would have flying trucks! … No but seriously I hope some of these designers never get a real job in the auto industry.

The Future is in Electric. Bollinger B1

@Roadwhale.
Call home!!! Your new truck is here.

A Chevy truck with round wheel wells? Say it ain't so!

3rd one down-looks like an ant minus the tentacles. The next
F150. " We didn't raise the ant, we are the ant" Time to give
Dennis Leary and new lease on life.

Lets hope these designers all have their resumes find the nearest
shredder.

None of these have even a semblance of reality.

===============

Good grief,those are some idiotic designs..

Heres your future pickemup..
https://youtu.be/cmGz7HPgyJ8

All of those designs are very cab-forward....wouldnt fly in frontal crash tests. With everything going to drive-by-wire, they need some original thinking with being able to move the cab around, forward or backward as needed for proper weight distribution whether empty or loaded. Of course, that has crash test challenges of its own.

For the off-roaders, how about an articulating frame? Fantastic breakover angles, but would need a driveline without a centralized driveshaft. A hybrid would work well here with eTwinsterX axles front and rear. Articulation would allow a longer wheelbase (longer bed or crew cab) and still provide off-road agility.

Active suspension heights need to improve and become more of a reliable reality. Five inches GC on the highway for handling and mpg, ten inches GC off-road, and 8 inches GC around town.

Unless they further develop plasma actuators to reduce drag, we will continue to see trucks becoming more aero, with smaller wheel wells, smaller front ends, and other drag-reducing technologies.

We will see more hybrids. ICE powerplant R&D will peak in 2020, then start to decline, with hybrid and other alternative powertrains increasing in R&D and production. I expect decreasing centralized driveshafts....probably more FWD utilization with electric motor assist for the rear wheels.

They'll look like armored trucks cuz that's what one will need to transport the money to buy one...

Look at pickups 20 years ago. Look at 1998 pickups. Not a whole lot different than the 2018's except for some fancy tech. The basic design hasn't changed. Likewise the 2038 pickups won't be that different than now. The basic design is functional and safe. Pickups 20 years from now won't be that different than today.

@Roadwhale, This will be my next truck.

"But I thought the future would have flying trucks! … No but seriously I hope some of these designers never get a real job in the auto industry."
Stick to dawdling in Comic Books

" millennial designer"
now that is funny, what is his back ground in driving a vehicle as to how it got stuck? Maybe he drove over a curb one time and figured he was an off-roader!!!

I was looking at my ZR2 yesterday, there is about 18 inches of truck in front of the radiator, they could shorten it by quite a bit. If you look at the front of any truck, there is a lot of space between the front of the motor and front of truck.

@Dave--I would agree with shortening the front of trucks especially since the engines are getting smaller in size. I don't see any of these designs being used at least for a long time. The manufacturers are using more alternative materials to steel such aluminum, carbon fiber, plastics, and other like materials to lighten trucks. Most pickups will not change drastically in looks as much as materials, engine sizes, and less weight. Sure there will be some changes such as a slightly slopping roof but otherwise most of the changes will not be as visible as these concepts.

I seriously hope the Big 3 never build anything that remotely looks like these things!

I seriously hope the Big 3 never build anything that remotely looks like these things!

I seriously hope the Big 3 never build anything that remotely looks like these things!

More about rendering than engineering.

I didn't see anything about the suspension that allows 2mm clearance in the wheel wells. The first one looks like the wheels are the shock absorbers? Note the rear tire is expanded going over a low spot while the front two have an obvious split in the center of the tread. The hub logo's are upright, as if they don't rotate with the wheel.

..." Lucy, jou got some 'splaining to do!"

The F-150 will never change cause they are selling 700,000 per year

so why would they change it if it already is #1 in sales?

The F-150 will never change cause they are selling 700,000 per year

so why would they change it if it already is #1 in sales?

Posted by: smallPP | Dec 13, 2017 3:26:11 AM

Please supply a link to support the # of F-150's sold each year.

gmsrgreat- I think he is referring to the total of F series not F150.

-CT

"Call home!!! Your new truck is here. ---- Posted by: papajim

Which one, Papa?

Honestly, #2 and #5 aren't too bad, at least by appearances. Still think they're a mite big though. #1, #3 and #4 are just sick... with #4 looking like a space buggy.

"For the off-roaders, how about an articulating frame? Fantastic breakover angles, but would need a driveline without a centralized driveshaft. A hybrid would work well here with eTwinsterX axles front and rear. Articulation would allow a longer wheelbase (longer bed or crew cab) and still provide off-road agility."
---- Posted by Longboat

Why not pure electric drive? Do it Tesla style and have a 300+ horsepower motor on both axles and no driveshaft to worry about. Articulation of the suspension should be superior (no center pivot to worry about) and no real need for an articulated center coupling of the frame if it included four-wheel steering. Massive hill-climbing torque with almost no loss of power as you climb as long as the battery has a decent charge remaining. A 100kWh battery would give you more mileage than a 23 gallon gas tank, especially at lower driving speeds. Yet you'd still have 600hp or more to go over or through almost any obstacle.

Look at pickups 20 years ago. Look at 1998 pickups. Not a whole lot different than the 2018's except for some fancy tech. The basic design hasn't changed. Likewise the 2038 pickups won't be that different than now. The basic design is functional and safe. Pickups 20 years from now won't be that different than today.
---- Posted by: Lefty54

Remember the Ford Econoline pickup? How 'bout the Chevy Corvair pickup? Dodge D-20? Jeep FC? Volkswagen Type 2 pickup? They got shut down because of safety, sure. But there's a lot of cab-forward trucks operating today that meet Federal safety regulations, so why couldn't we have them again?

(My error. Dodge A100-series.)

@Roadwhale

We agree now and then. This time regards electric drive.

A good friend used to manage a large ranch near here and despite having tractors and 4x4 pickups & SUVs on the property, the most popular buggy on the place hands-down would be the golf carts.

He had 3 golf carts and a charger and whenever people had to get somewhere on the ranch in a hurry the golf cart would be the vehicle of choice, unless heavy payloads or trailers were involved of course.

That one with the bow tie on the front driving itself?

Seems to turning the wrong way on to a one way street.

Certainly...no Off-Road capability for any of these contenders here. Based on the designs of all being shown here, they would only be useful for Commercial Fleet related sales or city driving.

I may have to look into a Honda golf cart. This could be my next truck.

Are they street legal?

I'm sure they would be, if built. Now whether or not somebody would buy them...



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