Concept Cars

Ford teams up with lifestyle brand Filson for 2021 Bronco-based Wildland Fire Rig concept

Ford's latest concept vehicle is designed to better-equip firefighters for the tough tasks ahead.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Filson is a brand for go-everywhere lifestyle enthusiasts looking to be equipped for the long road ahead. The Ford Bronco is ready to take them there. A new partnership between the two iconic names in outdoors-ing has resulted in the Bronco + Filson Wildland Fire Rig concept and limited-edition outdoor gear.

The Bronco + Filson Wildland Fire Rig concept features a combination of firefighting equipment, rugged materials crafted by Filson, and the four-door Bronco. It is designed to be a tribute to the decades of first responders who used the Bronco for their firefighting duties.

"Ford and Filson share a unique history of helping protect our nation's wildfire crews for more than a century and helping them access rugged areas of forests," said Dave Rivers, Bronco marketing manager. "Today, we're combining those strengths to support those who protect our natural resources as well as helping preserve our nation's forests for future generations."

Ford Bronco + Filson Wildland Fire Rig concept

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The new concept car is based on the 2021 Ford Bronco four-door Badlands trim with available Sasquatch Package. Its exterior features a Forest Service Green paint job that is similar to the color used on the first-generation U.S. Forest Service Bronco. At its face is a modular steel Ford Performance bumper with a Warn Zeon 10s winch.

A heavy-duty custom roof rack with Rigid LED light bar is mounted to the Bronco's accessory points on the side mirror arms and rear J-plate. The rack holds a Pulaski, shovel, water tanks and axes, and is strong enough to double as a firefighter lookout. Additional specialized equipment on the rig includes a Kimtek Firelite Fire/Rescue Transport skid that comes with a Hannay Reels fire hose reel, Davey high-pressure water pump, 50-gallon water tank, Stihl chainsaw, two hard hats, a high lift jack, and Sure Seal drop torch attached to it.

Filson materials make the interior of the concept tougher. There's otter green canvas door bolsters, armrests, and seat trim surrounds. The seating surfaces have quilted black leather inspired by Filson's jacket lining, and Ann embossed Bronco logo.

Grab handles and the center console are painted in matching Filson otter green while a CB radio is mounted to the Bronco's versatile BYO device rack on the instrument panel.

Fireproof ripstop nylon similar to that on Filson backpacks and briefcases is used for the bimini-style top and rear cargo area divider. The top can be opened, rolled back and secured by Filson bridle leather straps.

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There's a Cerakote ceramic coating on the wheels, custom fabricated roof rack and grille, and a unique inside for the center console and instrument panel trim, all of which are designed for longevity. The center of the steering wheel features the Bronco horse plated in Filson brass. An embroidered Filson logo is mounted to the interior top and a similar logo has bee napplied to the center console trim tag.

"The Filson and Bronco collaboration was a natural fit, given the deep histories both brands have with the U.S. Forest Service dating back to the midcentury, when crews relied on the Filson Cruiser jackets and first-generation Broncos to reach remote terrain and protect them in harsh conditions," said Doug Thielen, director of marketing at Filson. "Our resilient materials and innovative product designs are the perfect complement for the rugged Bronco SUV, and honor wildland firefighters who risk it all to protect our forests and natural resources."

Earlier this week, Ford announced its new Bronco Wild Fund initiative. The company is set to use a percentage of the sales money it brings in from Bronco sales to fund an endowment that will benefit numerous outdoors-focused initiatives. Ford and the Bronco Wild Fund will donate two Broncos outfitted with firefighting equipment to help wildland fire personnel protect communities and vital natural resources.

Additionally, Filson and Ford will sell limited-edition Bronco + Filson outdoor gear at Filson.com to benefit the Bronco Wild Fund.

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A prototype of the 2022 GMC Hummer EV undergoes winter weather testing in Michigan.

Photo courtesy of GMC

All vehicles go through extreme weather testing. From the desert sands of the Arabian Peninsula and Mojave Desert to the freezing cold of Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Scandinavia's upper reaches, vehicles from concept to near-production.

During that testing, research and development team members are finding out if their power- and drivetrain components are properly functioning as they have designed them to, checking on calibration, and also discovering the hardiness of their work.

When it comes to electric vehicles, there are additional tests that play into it. Does the battery deplete too quickly? Is the battery able to handle the cold weather? Are the electric motors getting enough power?

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It was this, and more, put to the test by General Motors engineers when they got behind the wheel of the 2022 GMC Hummer in the northern reaches of Michigan. While driving in sub-zero temperatures they tested the all-electric truck on various slippery surfaces, including snow, ice, steep and split-mu grades. Key tests include integrating its powerful all-wheel drive torque distribution with the traction control system, as well as calibrating and testing the electronic stability control system.

The video shows the Hummer EV looping a test track, using four-wheel steering to handle ice, and bumping its way over some mild snow piles. There's also a show of the suspension system absorbing the imperfections in the roadway, allowing the cab of the truck to remain stable.

There are some differences with the prototype truck seen testing here and the renderings of the model that were shown off by GMC at the truck's reveal. Specifically, the front end. Eagle-eyed enthusiasts will note that the headlights and the area between them is not as refined as it was in the original images.

At this point, it is unclear as to why the change has been made and whether or not it's permanent. Likely, it's just fascia that has been deleted for testing and will be replaced when the vehicle heads to production.

The 2022 GMC Hummer EV is slated to go into production this autumn. Find out more about the product rollout plan for the model here.

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The Michelin VISION tire is the tire of the future for the company

Photo courtesy of Michelin

Sustainability is in focus for most of the world's automakers. Making cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans that pollute the Earth less than their predecessors is their focus alongside emerging safety and driver assistance technology. Others in the auto industry supply chain are also looking to become more sustainable, including Michelin.

The tire company has announced that by 2050, Michelin tires will be made entirely from renewable, recycled, bio sourced, and otherwise sustainable materials. Today, nearly 30 percent of the materials used in manufacturing Michelin Group tires is are sustainable.

A study released last year, Emissions Analytics, an independent global testing and data company that studies real-world emissions and fuel efficiency for passenger and commercial vehicles, found that pollution from tire wear can be 1,000 times worse than what comes out of a vehicle's exhaust pipe. Unlike exhaust pollution, tire and brake pollution is mostly unregulated.

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In 2017, Michelin introduced the VISION tire, a concept that is airless, connected, rechargeable, and entirely sustainable. Since then, the company has invested in recycling efforts, buying up rubber pellet recyclers in the State of Georgia and in Spain.

The current lineup of Michelin tires consists of products that contain more than 200 ingredients each. The main part of the equation is natural rubber, which is harvested from rubber trees via a process that requires tapping a tree much in the same way that maple syrup comes from maple trees. Rubber trees traditionally need to be at least six years old before they are harvested.

Other materials in Michelin tires include synthetic rubber, metal, fibers, and components that are designed to strengthen the tire's structure like carbon black, silica, and plasticizers.

In a statement, a spokesperson fro Michelin said, "Michelin's maturity in materials technology stems from the strength of its R&D capabilities, which are supported by 6,000 people working in seven research and development centers around the world and mastering 350 areas of expertise. The commitment of these engineers, researchers, chemists and developers has led to the filing of 10,000 patents covering tyre design and manufacturing. They work hard every day to find the recipes that will improve tyre safety, durability, ride and other performance features, while helping to make them 100-percent sustainable by 2050."

Michelin has partnered with a number of companies to create materials of the future. Axens and IFP Energies Nouvelles, the two companies that are spearheading the BioButterfly project, have been working with Michelin since 2019 on producing bio-sourced butadiene to replace petroleum-based butadiene. Using the biomass from wood, rice husks, leaves, corn stalk, and other plant waste, 4.2 million tons of wood chips could be incorporated into Michelin tires every year with the materials replacement.

A partnership between Michelin and Pyroware can produce recycled styrene from plastics found in packaging. Styrene is used to produce synthetic rubber. Eventually, tens of thousands of tonnes of polystyrene waste could be recycled back into its original products as well as into Michelin tires every year.

Additionally, Michelin will launch the construction of its first tire recycling plant in the world with Encivo, a Swedish company that has developed a patented technology to recover carbon black, pyrolysis oil, steel, gas and other new, high-quality reusable materials from end-of-life tires.

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