Designing the 2022 Ford Maverick–& About Electric Pickups

A wide-ranging discussion that’s concentrated on pickups

By Gary S. Vasilash

Although “essential courage” may sound a bit exaggerated when it comes to the design theme for a vehicle, Scott Anderson, design manager at Ford, explains how that term describes what the team did in developing the design of the 2022 Ford Maverick—the interior design, in particular.

The Maverick is a compact truck. Unibody, not body-on-frame, like its sibs, the Ranger and the F-150.

While those two vehicles are designed and engineered primarily for those who are focused on, primarily, vocational uses (OK: there are plenty of people who buy pickups and never use the beds for anything beyond groceries or Christmas trees), the Maverick is designed and engineered mainly for urban dwellers who like to do recreational things (the Maverick can tow 4,000 pounds: like a small trailer) and whose recreation may include making things, not only with sheet metal and 2x4s, but also 3D printers.

It is a different proposition.

One of the things to know about the Maverick is that in the base model, which has a starting MSRP of $19,995, has a hybrid powertrain.

And as has long been the argument by some OEMs that have not gone the hybrid route, the nature of that, which combines an internal combustion engine (in this case a 162-hp 2.5-liter four) and an electric motor and battery (all in for the Maverick: 191 hp), hybrid powertrains are more expensive than, say, a 162-hp 2.5-liter four all by itself.

But the base Maverick is a hybrid and the base Maverick starts at under $20K.

And because it is a truck and because Ford has a lot riding on its reputation of building trucks (i.e., “Built Ford Tough”), there could be no skimping on the engineering of the Maverick.

So no surprise they had to do some things differently on developing and executing the interior.

Functional design and clever use of materials in the ’22 Ford Maverick. (Image: Ford)

For one thing, Anderson says, they decided that they would be honest about the use of plastic. They wouldn’t make it appear as though the material is something that it isn’t—but at the same time, they made it appear, through color and texture choice, as something both interesting and fit-for-purpose.

In addition, they did lots of observation about how people use their interiors, including storing objects of various sizes and configurations and so make the means to accommodate them, even if it meant things, as in the case of the front arm rests, are not what is typical: the front arm rests are truncated so as to make it more convenient to have large water bottles in the map pocket below.

So there is the essential part. And the guts, because when you decide that fasteners, for example, are going to be part of the design, not something hidden (often in a half-assed manner), then you’ve got to stand up for it.

Anderson talks about all this and more on this edition of “Autoline After Hours” with Rain Noe of Core77, freelance writer Mark Williams and me.

In addition, Noe, Williams and I discuss the coming onslaught of electric trucks, including the F-150 Lightning, the Rivian R1T, the HUMMER EV pickup, the Bollinger B2, the Silverado electric, the Tesla Cybertruck, and the Lordstown Endurance.

And you can see the show here.

How the Ford Maverick Was Developed

An up-close look at bringing the clever small truck to the market

By Gary S. Vasilash

The Ford Maverick is what is being called a “white space” vehicle, a small—199.7-inch long—pickup truck with four doors and seating for five. As a point of reference, a Ford Ranger is 210.8 inches long and an F-150 is 231.7 inches long.

It will come standard with a hybrid powertrain that will provide an estimated combined fuel efficiency rating of 37 mpg. And the standard model has a payload capacity of 1,500 pounds and is capable of towing 2,000 pounds.

(Image: Ford)

The starting MSRP for the Maverick is $19,995.

And when asked whether this is some sort of artificially low price, both Chris Mazur, Maverick chief program engineer, and Trevor Scott, marketing manager for the Maverick (and Ranger), unambiguously maintain that this truck is the real deal.

It is, they say “Built Ford Tough.”

That claim is fairly bedrock for the Ford truck lineup so you can be confident that they’re not going to be using it unless there is confidence that they’re going to deliver with this pickup the same way that’s done for the other Ford trucks.

The interesting thing about the Maverick is how it was developed—done in a way unlike has been the case at Ford (as well as other companies that develop, well, anything). And this approach has not only led to the various innovations that are part of the Maverick, but also contributes to the cost-efficiency that the MSRP underscores.

One of the things about the truck is that the team, observing the way that real people use their trucks (not that the people on the team aren’t real people, too) is that many of them hack solutions, whether it is drilling holes in the sidewalls of the box to access electricity or jury-rigging the means to secure a mountain bike in the back. So Mazur says that they thought about that and have made power access simply available will provide CAD files that will allow owners to 3D print tooling for things like attachments.

It is almost that DIY ethos that is characteristic of the product development.

When the development started—pre-COVID—it was decided that there would be a cross-functional team consisting of representatives and participants from all functions that would be necessary to get the job done.

All of the participants wouldn’t just be in the same email group—they would be in the same room. Finance. Manufacturing engineering. Everyone was there. If there was a question to be answered, there was the person—right over there—who probably had the answer.

And they worked to be fast. Their “audacious goal” was to cut 25 months out of the development program.

They made quick models. They plastered the wall with documents and Post-It notes.

When it was time for the upper management reviews, it was there in the room, with the working documents and models and whatnot. Binders and PowerPoints were not on the schedule.

And when COVID hit and the people left the room for their own houses, they were still a team that knew one another, knew who to talk to to get answers, knew who was involved in what aspect of the development.

They were able to get things done.

They didn’t hit the 25-month goal, Mazur admits.

But they took 20 months out of the process.

Remarkable by any measure. And they had a pandemic to contend with.

Realize that as Ford has decided that things like trucks are important to its offering in a way that cars no longer are, the Maverick is a key vehicle in its product lineup.

Mazur and Scott are our special guests on this edition of “Autoline After Hours.”

John McElroy and I are joined by Mike Martinez of Automotive News, who covers Ford.

It is a full hour devoted to the Maverick.

If you have any interest in the truck or in an innovative approach to development, you’ve got to watch this show because you’re not likely to ever get a better sense of how the Maverick has been created.

You can see it all here.

A Thought About the Design of the Ford Maverick

Does an urban dweller want something that is Built Ford Tough or which smacks of fashion?

By Gary S. Vasilash

“One thing that’s non-negotiable is that Maverick is Built Ford Tough,” said Chris Mazur, chief engineer for the small pickup.

What seems a bit odd is that Ford says of the truck “The interior design is stylish and spacious, with thoughtful features and the versatility for city driving or escaping the urban life,” which seems to indicate that this is a vehicle for city dwellers.

Looks like a truck. Is a truck. (Image: Ford)

So this “Built Ford Tough” characteristic doesn’t seem to align with what would assume would be style-conscious urbanites—except for those who wear Carhartt.

As it starts under $20K and comes standard as a hybrid, there is a draw there.

But as Hyundai is coming with the Santa Cruz, a vehicle that is certainly more chic, it will be interesting to see which has greater appeal for those who want a “truck” but really don’t want a “truck.”