There was a time in this country when exploration and expansion were intimately tied to the tracks of the American railroad. Although those days are long gone, Ford's latest concept attempts to capture some of the rugged optimism, super luxury, and ultimate strength in the form of the F-250 Super Chief. Named after a famous mid-20th century passenger train that ran between Chicago and Los Angeles (sometimes called the Train of the Stars), the Super Chief is a design exercise that could hold a few hints about the next-generation Super Duty.

In an attempt to combine the legendary styling cues of the past with a host of modern technology, the Super Chief incorporates the look and feel of a classic train, while adding several other transportation-themed design cues, at the same time offering a completely unique powertrain.

The Super Chief is able to run off hydrogen, ethanol, and gasoline up to E85--called the Tri-Flex fuel system--all using a supercharged 6.8-liter SOHC 30-valve V-10. This concept's drivetrain is designed to address the question of how we move toward a hydrogen economy before we have a fully functioning infrastructure in place. Commonly acknowledged as the ultimate clean fuel of the future (emitting only water vapor from a tailpipe), hydrogen is the most abundant element on Earth and can be manufactured anywhere in the world. However, manufacturing facilities and refueling-station networks don't exist and could take, by some accounts, over 30 years to complete. This "hybrid" system (a single engine using several fuel sources at the same time) could be the interim technology we need.

The hydrogen fuel system will have its own separate storage system, consisting of the three safety-sealed high-pressure tanks with a combined capacity of 11.2 kilograms, enough for approximately a 150-mile range. Two tanks are located inside the framerails, forward of the rear axle. The third tank is located between the cab and the bed, above the framerails. The tanks add about 300 pounds to the vehicle's curb weight. Thanks to Ford's experience with flex-fuel vehicles and hydrogen-run E-450 commercial vans, the Super Chief's powertrain is completely functional, able to comfortably switch between fuel sources at the flip of a switch.