ORLANDO, Fla. -

Ford Motor Company has a concept.

Its name is Atlas.

Glittering, edgy, dramatic.

Unveiled recently in Orlando, the Atlas is Ford’s concept pickup truck that offers a glimpse into the future, a future with more miles per gallon.

“The biggest unmet need for [pickup owners] is fuel economy,” says Ford’s Eric Peterson.

Peterson says the challenge for the Atlas is to get fuel economy without compromising capability.

“So that’s up to us to find whether that’s Eco-Boost in a power train, V-8 performance in a V-6,” he explains.

There is nuance in the Atlas’s surprises. You won’t notice at first glance the hidden secrets of fuel economy, like retractable running boards to reduce drag, or grill and wheel shutters that stay open when extra engine cooling is needed and automatically close to improve aerodynamics when cruising on the highway at steady speeds. 

“This is smart technology that when the wheels are up to speed, the wheels close up.  [Otherwise] there’s a lot of drag, aerodynamic drag,” Peterson says.

Speaking of smart technology, the Ford Atlas takes the revolution in backup assist technology one step further by programming the pickup to steer a trailer.

“It allows you to steer the trailer.  It does all the math, all the algorithms,” Peterson explains.

Did somebody say math?

Have no fear:  the Atlas was built to be sleek, fun, almost otherworldly. The polished metal and leather interior, lit up like a spaceship, says it all.  It’s a man cave on wheels.  If not a VIP room at the hippest club in town. If none of that appeals to you, maybe the functionality will. The pickup features a step that rises above the bed and converts to a cargo rack, a fully illuminated bed for those who work at night, and deployable ramps that slide right out of the truck.

The Atlas will not necessarily end up in the Ford product lineup, as is. Rather, it will tour the country, allowing Ford’s designers to get consumer and expert input.  The concepts that work will find their way into existing brand names and new generations of pickups that have yet to roll off the assembly line.