Ford working on split tailgate for future SUV

A recent patent filing hints that Ford could give one of its future SUVs a split tailgate.

Ford filed a patent application for a split-tailgate design back in 2021, but that application was just published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) March 12, 2024. Ford’s design appears similar to split tailgates that have appeared on other SUVs like the Land Rover Range Rover, certain versions of the Toyota Land Cruiser, BMW X5, and more recently the Rivian R1S.

Ford split tailgate patent image

Instead of opening as one pice like a conventional tailgate, the split tailgate opens in two pieces like a clamshell. The upper section opens upward like a conventional SUV tailgate, while the lower section opens downward, usually forming a flat surface like a pickup truck tailgate.

That lower section provides a handy place to stage roadside picnics, but split tailgates are often more expensive and more complex thanks to additional parts. That’s why they’re generally limited to luxury SUVs like the Range Rover.

Ford split tailgate patent image

Ford split tailgate patent image

Not every patented idea makes it to production, but Ford’s decision to patent a split tailgate indicates that it’s at least considering one for a future vehicle. The patent application depicts an SUV, but in it Ford notes that a split tailgate could be applied to other types of vehicles, including minivans and hatchbacks.

It would be interesting to see a split tailgate on the next-generation Ford Explorer, or perhaps the automaker’s upcoming three-row electric SUV, but right now it’s too early to tell if a split tailgate will appear on any Ford vehicles in the future.

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