Cars > Tech

Ford has a patent for a retractable tailpipe

In order to prevent exhaust tips from getting whacked off-road

In theory, this tailpipe will stay clear of obstacles. IMAGE FROM PATENTGURU

Carmakers are constantly working on ways to improve their products and Ford is no exception. When the engineers at the blue oval aren’t busy inventing stupid-fast EVs or super cool outdoor trucks, they sometimes look toward smaller solutions for problems most of us didn’t even know existed. One such invention hides behind US patent number US2021310400A1 filed by Ford Global Technologies.

Its description reads as follows:

Method and system are provided for a retractile exhaust tail pipe for vehicles. The system comprises an exhaust tube mounted to an underbody of a vehicle, an exhaust tip slidably mounted to the exhaust tube, the exhaust tip having a plurality of extension shafts fixed on a second end, and an exhaust tip retract module positioned on the exhaust tube circumscribing an outer surface, the exhaust tip retract module having an actuator, a gear, and a plurality of bearings that mate with the plurality of extension shafts on the exhaust tip.

The tailpipe sits on rails and is moved by an electric motor. IMAGES FROM PATENTGURU

That’s a mighty complicated way to describe a telescopic exhaust, and you might now be wondering why on earth anyone would need an exhaust tip that can be extended and retracted. Well, the patent gives one very good use case for this invention:

Automotive vehicles may be configured with various off-road capability features. However, the departure angle of many off-road vehicles is much smaller than their approach angle. This difference between the approach and the departure angles may cause several problems. In one example, when subjecting the vehicle to certain types of difficult terrain, due to its small departure angle, tail pipes of the vehicle may hit the ground causing scratches, compression, and potentially deformation of the tail pipes. This can have a negative impact on the way the customer perceives the capabilities of the vehicle.

With its short overhangs, the Bronco will probably not need a retractable tailpipe too often. PHOTO FROM FORD

Put like that, the idea makes total sense, and you suddenly wonder why no one hasn’t thought about that before. The patent states that the system can be activated manually or automatically. For example, when the car enters off-road mode or when sensors indicate that it’s driving at an angle which may put the exhaust at danger of getting squashed. The setup is operated by an electric motor that engages a gear within the “exhaust tip retractile module” (pretty sure that’s a new automotive term there) and that can then move the tip of the tailpipe back and forth.

It’ll be interesting to see when Ford will add this to a production model such as the Bronco or the F-150, and how long it will take for someone to make cheap jokes about the tip being the most sensitive part, and drivers now being able to prevent their shafts from getting crushed.

Frank Schuengel

Frank is a German e-commerce executive who loves his wife, a Filipina, so much he decided to base himself in Manila. He has interesting thoughts on Philippine motoring.