We recently reported, based on information presented at a Ford dealer meeting, that the new Ford Bronco will have a removable roof to go with its removable modular doors. Motor Trend's detectives have now uncovered a possible clue to how that roof might work, according to an application by Ford Global Technologies for a German patent. The plans detail a three-roof system, so to speak,with two retractable fabric covers beneath the removable hardtop.
The two cloth covers fit in a framework that itself is removable, allowing a choice between a mesh sunscreen and a more solid woven fabric that presumably will provide some protection from rain. The covers can be fully opened, or partially retracted if the driver wants more sun than the folks sitting in the back.
Once you arrive at your destination, the fabric panels can also be extended beyond the back of the vehicle, where they can be supported by portable stakes, to make a protective awning. You may recall that the late but unlamented Pontiac Aztek had a fold-up tent you could attach to the back of the vehicle, though this would be a much more basic shelter.
The new Bronco will be competing directly with the Jeep Wrangler, and while the Wrangler does have an optional soft top that can be installed when the hardtop is removed, Ford appears to be trying for something more convenient. The system may work simply from the user perspective, but the mechanism looks robust, so it will likely be an extra-cost option if it actually is offered on the Bronco.
This is, of course, speculative. Ford isn't saying anything publicly about the Bronco's roof. We'll just have to wait until late next year, when the new Bronco launches, to see if the retractable fabric roof panels make it to production.