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Hyundai and Kia patent roller tailgate

TAILGATE PARTY TRICK: Will Hyundai-Kia’s new sliding tailgate spell the end of the traditional top-hinged design?

A new sliding-type tailgate for SUV and people movers appears to be in the works

22 Feb 2022

HYUNDAI and Kia have filed a patent for a sliding liftgate with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The patent application describes an SUV rear door that works like a sliding door that runs along rails and up onto a vehicle’s roof. 


Obvious benefits of the design are a lower overall clearance height and eliminating the requirement for the operator to step back so that a tailgate would have enough clearance to swing open – both of which would be advantageous when a vehicle is parked in a tight space.


On the downside, the design won’t provide any shelter from the elements when it’s raining…


According to the USPTO application: 


“(The) sliding tailgate includes a moving main body configured to be located on at least a rear surface of a vehicle, roof levers located at both side ends of a front portion moving main body and configured to be moved along roof rail units, tilting units configured to rotate the roof levers thereabout so as to tilt the front portion of the main moving body, rail units configured to be located on a vehicle body and coupled to roller units located at the rear end of the moving main body so as to provide a moving trajectory of the rear end of the moving main body, drive units located on the moving main body and configured to apply force to the roller units, and a controller configured to receive a request for opening the main moving body”.


The sliding tailgate design, which has filed more than 12 months ago (January 2021), has only just come to light courtesy of Nissan Z Forums


One of the several images posted of the design shows the tailgate retracting into the roof skin of the vehicle (utilising the space usually reserved for a sunroof). From the remaining design images, it’s possible to see how the design would operate on either a people-mover of SUV body style; the panel requires an equally large roof space into which, once opened, it needs to be concealed.


Like many folding hardtop designs, the sliding tailgate appears to feature several hinge points, linkages and a motor or motors synchronised to retract the panel in sequence into – and out of – its opened position. The tailgate would likely be secured with electro-mechanical servos once in place, similar to those of automated sliding doors that feature on high-end people-movers.


While neither Hyundai nor Kia has flagged which models may feature the sliding tailgate, it’s likely that future iterations of the Carnival, Santa Fe, Telluride and Palisade could incorporate this new design. It may also be a useful addition to ever-taller people-mover models such as the Carnival and Staria, both of which currently feature a top-hinged tailgate in MPV configuration.


It's also conceivable that the sliding tailgate could make its way into the Staria Load LCV, but the added complexity of, and cost associated with, the design may not appeal to fleet operators.


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