The long-rumored multi-function tailgate designs have surfaced.
Trucks are big business in America - just look at the sales figures to see the Ford F Series dominating year after year after year. But when all modern full-size trucks are good at their jobs, manufacturers need to set them apart from their rivals. Of late, we've seen the basic tailgate come into focus as Chevrolet and Ram have both reinvented it in an attempt to make it more functional and more useful for a number of applications.
The Ford F-150, however, has lagged behind, not offering anything out of the ordinary aside from the tailgate work surface with areas for tools, a built-in measuring tape/ruler, and other little gimmicks. That's about to change, as CarBuzz has discovered patent filings with the USPTO for Ford's entrant into the multifunction tailgate realm.
We heard back in August 2020 that Ford was working on a multifunction tailgate, but at the time, it was mere rumors from insiders at Ford. The reports claimed that Ford had benchmarked the systems used by Ram and Chevrolet and had come up with a new triple-split design that would better them both.
In the patent documents, we can clearly see that the earlier reports were true. Ford's tailgate design - which is as of yet unnamed - is divided into three sections horizontally. The middle section functions as a side-hinged swing door, which can be opened for easier access to the bed.
This is similar in principle to the Ram 1500's Multifunction Tailgate, except that only has a swing door on either side of the tailgate, whereas Ford's solution is centralized for easier access to all parts of the load bin.
But what about bed access steps? Chevy's MultiFlex Tailgate uses the top half of the tailgate to fold down and open into a step, while Ford has previously had what it called the Man Step that deployed out the top end of the tailgate. The newly patented tailgate design differs from this substantially, and instead of the tailgate itself housing a step, the load sill behind the tailgate can fold outwards, revealing a step to access the tailgate. Due to its central position and complete isolation from the tailgate mechanism, it would appear this step can be used when the tailgate is closed or when the central swing door is open.
But more is always better, so Ford is equipping the new tailgate with not one, but two step designs, with the second functioning like the old Man Step we all knew and loved.
Lastly, the patent showcases how both opening elements of the tailgate can be electronically operated. By means of dash-mounted buttons, or perhaps buttons on the key fob, Ford truck drivers will be able to remotely open either the entire tailgate or the central swing door, releasing the tailgate latches or the door latches respectively.
There's no word yet on what Ford might call the new multifunction tailgate design, but if the Man Step serves as inspiration, maybe 'Man Gate' might be on the cards?