When viewed at first glance, the idea of four wheel steering is actually not that new of a concept. Currently used in heavy machinery, certain performance models, as well as monster trucks to help improve maneuverability especially when parking in tight spots. The technology itself has been around since the 1980s, but it appears that Ford is looking to add the technology to its F-Series lineup of trucks as indicated by a patent that was submitted by the company in December of 2019.
Discovered in the files of the U.S. Copyright Office by The Drive, the system appears to make use of a live axle suspension which works in conjunction with a four wheel steering system. If this makes it into production, this would be the first time Ford has offered such a feature on the F-Series. As expected, the novel technology would be electronically activated with actuators, while the Ackerman steering geometry would be used. The key advantage of the Ackerman setup is that it prevents the tires from moving about on different turning points when the truck is going left or right. As a result, tire scrubbing would be reduced, though the patent does appear to reveal that the system would not be offered on dually models due to the diagram only showing a single rear wheel layout versus the dual wheel layout that is seen on variants like the F-450.
The all-wheel system could also make its appearance on select CUV and car models, (another first for the company) if Ford can perfect the technology to expand outward into other vehicle platforms. When questioned by The Drive on this subject, Ford claimed that the patent application was just a normal aspect of its daily operations versus being any indicator of the company investigating it for business plans or production. While we are understandably skeptical of Ford’s response to this novel idea, Ford was actually not the first to bring it to the pickup segment.
That honor goes to GM which debuted Quadrasteer on both the Silverado and the Sierra in 2002. While handling was a secondary benefit, GM instead chose to focus the bulk of its marketing on encouraging owners to use the system for towing, with Quadrasteer supposedly improving maneuverability when towing, as well as reducing the effort needed to park an RV into a camp site. Unfortunately, bad advertising on the part of GM as well as the high price tag for Quadrasteer caused it to be an afterthought in the eyes of consumers, and it was quietly discontinued in 2005. While it is unknown if Ford would face the same fate if it chooses to throw its hat into the four wheel steering game, sensible pricing as well as a dedicated marketing campaign could help it gain a solid following among truck buyers.