Ikeahacking has got nothing on pickup truck bed hacking. Out here in truck country you can see all manner of jury-rigged racks, rigs, tailgates, DIY service bodies and I've even seen two trucks with beds made completely out of dimensional lumber.
Ford's designers know all of this; in fact they were tasked with studying what the DIY crowd routinely does to factory beds. Ford doesn't necessarily want you drilling into the sheet metal or futzing with the wiring, but they've accepted that bed-hacking is going to happen, and thus have designed in features on their new Maverick's "Flexbed" to let end users get the customization they want without voiding the warranty—or spending a ton of cash on factory extras. The target Maverick customer has "passions and hobbies they love and would rather spend money on the mountain bike, not necessarily the bike rack to get it to the mountains," Ford has concluded.
"The whole bed is a DIY fan's paradise," says Keith Daugherty, an engineering specialist who helped develop the truck box for Maverick. "You can buy the bolt-in Ford cargo management system and we're happy to sell it to you, but if you're a bit more creative, you can also just go to the hardware store and get some C-channel and bolt it to the bed to make your own solutions."
For the task of supporting DIY electrical projects, electrical engineer Gaby Grajales helped develop standard built-in 12-volt electrical power prewired to an easily removable cover on either side of the back of the bed. "People have forever been hacking into their wiring harness to run things like lighting, air pumps and other useful accessories," says Grajales. "This is a better solution – we're enabling customer needs while protecting the taillamp wiring and creating a fused circuit to avoid compromising the overall electrical system. With this, you have the option to select the factory-available box lighting or install your own home-built lighting setup, or even invent a whole new use for the 12-volt access points."
Then there are simple, practical considerations: The design team ensured a 5th percentile female—hardly the demographic most trucks seem designed for—could easily reach over the sidewalls to access the bed.
And while a sheet of plywood can fit between the bed walls if it rests on the wheel wells, wouldn't it be better if the sheet was also supported at the back, where it sticks out? Thus they came up with a tailgate whose angle can be adjusted and locked into place, providing support for longer items.
They've also expanded the number of slots you'll find in the sides of most pickup beds, allowing end users to create quick racks and dividers using dimensional lumber.
At the bottom of this entry is a video giving you a rare look at Ford's pickup truck bed design process, where the designers built a mock-up of the bed and started experimenting with features derived from customer feedback.