Multi-function tailgates are all the rage in the current American pickup market. Chevrolet, Ford, GMC, and Ram already have various takes on the concept. Three recent patent filings suggest Rivian plans to offer similar solutions for the R1T, too.
One patent describes a tailgate with a step that could make it easier to climb into the bed. The paperwork describes various methods of making this panel extend, including springs, bars, and scissor links.
Gallery: Rivian Pickup Tailgate Patents
Also, there's a patent for a telescoping tailgate with a section in the middle that could move in or out, depending on the owner's need. In its patent documents, Rivian offers a few examples of possible uses of this design.
The panel could provide easier access for reaching into the bed with the panel telescopes out of the way. Or, fully extending the piece would provide a way to make the bed longer if the extra area is necessary for hauling bigger items
In an alternative design, Rivian says the telescoping portion could go side to side rather than up and down. In this case, a person could put something long in the bed and use the moving piece to clamp down on what's extending out of the back to keep the cargo in place.
Finally, the third patent is for a cargo-holding system that would attach to the tailgate. In the images, Rivian specifically shows this as a bike rack, but the paperwork is clear that this is just an example. The company could configure the pieces to hold a variety of gear. There would be multiple anchor points for affixing whatever a person needs.
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Rivian filed for the cargo carrier and step on June 29, 2020. The telescoping panel came on June 30. The United States Patent and Trademark Office published all three on December 30, 2021.
As always with patents, there's no guarantee that Rivian is actually going to implement these ideas into the R1T. Given how popular multi-function tailgates are, we could imagine the company working to implement these ideas into future vehicles.