But sliding tailgates are the future of practicality.
Cars might have a certain appeal as thrill machines for enthusiasts, but for the bulk of the population that uses them, they're first and foremost appliances. That's important, as the user experience can be severely improved, or hampered, by an appliance that is inconvenient to use. It's why complex infotainment systems have caused poor initial quality ratings among new car buyers and why we've raved about machines like the Polestar 2 that make life so easy by removing additional complexity. Hyundai has now come up with what it believes is the next step in making cars - particularly crossovers - easier to live with.
Traditional crossovers have a top-hinged tailgate which creates a wide aperture but can often be the cause of ire when backed into a parking space too close to a wall or another car. Hyundai has fixed this with a new design for a sliding tailgate.
Uncovered by CarBuzz, patent documents filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and approved last week showcase this new technology that could soon be coming to cars like the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Tucson, Santa Fe, and Palisade. Instead of hinging and swinging upwards, the tailgate will essentially mimic the sliding door of a minivan and slide atop the roof of the crossover or SUV.
Railing on either side of the roof, tilting units built into the hatch mechanism, and gas lift struts will combine to rotate the rear panel onto the roof and slide it forward to open the rear cavity in its entirety.
Hyundai believes this will prevent the frustrating scenario of opening a tailgate only to realize you're parked too close to a wall and then needing to repark in order to access the cargo bay.
In the patent documentation, Hyundai proposes various techniques for achieving the final goal. These range from typical slide rails as one would find on a minivan to hinges and levers that can fold in a particular manner to achieve the desired opening effect. Guide rails and supports could either be located along the outboard edges of the roof or centrally depending on the design and requirements of the vehicle.
Hyundai envisions this being of particular use in RVs and SUVs where practicality supersedes other criteria in its importance. Of course, there are certain limitations, the principal one being height. With the tailgate opening atop the roof, low-roofed parkades or garages could result in the inability to open the tailgate in such a manner, whereas traditional hinged tailgates can often be stopped at a lower height. However, with electric crossovers adopting lower profiles in general, we don't foresee future SUVs being as tall as their current counterparts.