Rivian files for patent on ‘swing and drop’ pickup truck tailgate

Sven Gustafson

Rivian is raising the ante on the truck tailgate wars with a new patent application for what it calls a “swing and drop tailgate” assembly for its R1T battery-electric pickup truck, to increase options for users who want to access the bed for work space, or for easier loading and unloading.

First spotted by Teslarati, the patent application describes a tailgate that can be configured in multiple positions, thanks to the design of its hinges and latches. It allows the tailgate to swing down roughly 180 degrees from its upright, closed position. Rivian says this allows better access to the bed than traditional, flat-folding tailgates.

“One drawback to this motion [of a typical lowered tailgate] is the tailgate now protrudes rearward of the vehicle, blocking the user from standing closer to the vehicle,” the patent application states. “Other motions of a tailgate, such as a side-hinged tailgate that opens to the side may allow a user to stand closer to the vehicle, but this motion requires significant clearance and does not allow the increased horizontal space that the dropped down tailgate provides.”

Rivian says its tailgate can be manually controlled or via an actuator, with metal rings that can be pulled out to serve as footsteps. Drawings show it’s also capable of being dropped horizontally, like a traditional tailgate, with a second, lower platform also offered via a set of hinges if you need more than one flat surface.

The design could feature on Rivian’s R1T, its 400-plus mile range pickup (in its top model with a 180 kWh battery) that boasts a towing capacity of 11,000 pounds, though a Rivian spokeswoman cautions that it's merely a patent and the company has said nothing about production intent. The R1T is due to begin production late next year or early 2021 at Rivian’s manufacturing plant in Normal, Illinois.

It joins other novel tailgate designs. Ram has its Multifunction Tailgate, which utilizes a 60-40 split door that opens like barn doors, while GM has its MultiPro tailgate. It offers six different configurations, including a partial swing-down option that is similar to what Rivian has devised. The upcoming Tesla Cybertruck, meanwhile, will feature an openable cover and a sliding ramp that extends from the bed for loading and unloading.