It’s still several months away from hitting the streets, but it seems safe to assume that Rivian’s new electric R1S SUV and R1T pickup truck are set to be major disruptors in the automotive industry. The battery-powered adventure vehicles have already shown off a host of unique features that seem primed to grab headlines and hearts, from the ability to spin in place to a pop-out kitchenette designed to make overlanding easier than ever.
Now, a patent filing reveals that Rivian’s pickup truck may have yet another game-changing feature, one with far broader reach than a slide-out electric kitchen: a multi-mode tailgate.
The patent, which was published on December 12th and recently dug up by Teslarati, reveals that Rivian is working on what it calls a “swing and drop tailgate.” The basic idea, according to the filing, would be for a tailgate in two different manners: the traditional way, where it swings on a hinge from a closed vertical position to an open horizontal one; and the “drop” method, where a linkage is used to lower the tailgate more or less vertically down from its usual closed position.
This, as the patent application states, would make it easier for users to access deep inside the bed, as they wouldn’t have to reach across the entire tailgate. The mechanism could be manually or automatically operated, according to Rivian’s filing.
Now, Rivian is hardly the only truckmaker with grand plans for the tailgate. Honda’s Ridgeline has been offering a dual-action back door for more than a decade, with a tailgate that swings open both up and down and from the side, offering easier access to the in-bed trunk. GMC’s recently-introduced MultiPro tailgate adds a fold-out step to the usual setup, while Ram’s new multifunction tailgate adds a 60/40 bifurcation to the tail flap, enabling the two sides to open laterally.
Still, while innovation in the pickup world is common, Rivian’s method seems superior in at least one way: it moves the tailgate out of the way without the need for much open space for it to swing. There’s no mention of whether it’ll reach production, but given the company’s predilection for innovation and the apparent advantages of such a setup, it’s hard to see it not reaching the R1T.