Ford Patents Removable Door Panel Design With Built-In Tube Doors — Will We See It On The New Bronco?

Is this the perfect all-around solution to top the Wrangler's tube door setup?

[Drawings: Ford Global Technologies LLC, via U.S. Patent & Trademark Office]

Automakers apply for thousands of patents every year, and Ford’s employees are some of the most prolific inventors in the industry. We’ve seen a ton of interesting ideas surface through patent documents, and we have another one Tuesday showing the 2021 Ford Bronco. This patent centers on its doors once again. Not only does this show a removable door design — we’re certain the Bronco will have that feature to take on the Jeep Wrangler — but this patent shows a different approach than what we’ve seen before.

A user on the Bronco6G forums discovered the new patent, and the idea is definitely worth diving into thanks to the published document.

Normal doors versus tube doors: Why not both?

This time, Ford patented the concept showing what looks like a standard door, but that actually includes an inner tube portion as well as a removable panel mounted to the door frame structure. The idea behind the patent is to keep the normal look for everyday use, but take off the outer panels when you’re going off-road. That way, you can still have the open air tube door experience. Going into a more detail, the patent document says that “the door is removable to prevent damage that may occur when driving in an off-road environment.”

The tube frame structure is static in this design, and will stick with the car when the outer panel is removed. The outer door “subassembly” incorporates some of the conventional door trim, windows and outer latch, while the inner assembly houses the interior door latch, hinge, power window switches and power lock switches. Then the patent shows four latches securing the panels together, with most of the door trim going with the outer door subassembly when you pull it off.

Most of the actual structure for the doors remains in the tube frame with its two main beams and cross beams further reinforcing the frame. It looks like most of the electrical connectors stay within the inner frame, so removing the doors doesn’t seem too complicated in practice.

Now, the patent does mention that storing the outer door panels is another consideration. This document doesn’t show exactly how you’d go about storing the outer door panels. That said, most off-roaders may likely take them off before they leave home, then put them back on when they’re using the Bronco (if this makes it to the production version) as a daily driver.

Coming to the Bronco?

At the moment, this is just a patent Ford holds for the technology. That’s not to say it will definitely make it to the Bronco, nor do we have any suggestion from Ford that this specific design is coming. Still, it’s a neat idea and one that shows that Bronco will have a few interesting tricks up its sleeve.

You can check out the full patent on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website.

We expect to see the production Bronco debut sometime this spring, so stay tuned for more updates!