The design, which was first reported by CarBuzz, incorporates a side-hinged door in the center of the tailgate that offers close access to the bed, but can also be folded down to open in the traditional fashion.
The idea is similar to Ram’s Multifunction tailgate, which can open like barn doors along a 60/40 split. GM has also had great success with the popular Multi-Pro and Multi-Flex tailgates offered on the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silveradof pickups, which don’t have side hinges, but can be set to six different positions.
Ford’s design manages to still incorporate the F-Series existing pop-out tailgate step, while adding a smaller one that folds down from the bumper for use with the swing-out door.
The patent doesn’t guarantee the feature will launch on a production truck, but Ford development vehicles with what appear to be prototypes of the tailgate have been spotted being tested alongside the F-Series’ competition.