Ford designs deployable step for a pickup’s rear bumper

Power running boards and built-in bumper steps are common features on new pickup trucks, but a new Ford patent filing effectively combines them.

The filing, which was published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on May 21, and submitted by Ford in 2021, is for a deployable step for the rear bumper of a pickup truck, something that could make accessing the bed easier, especially when the truck is lifted.

As described in the patent filing, the step assembly would fit into a truck’s trailer hitch receiver. An arm would pivot down from the mounting point when the step is being used. The rest of the time, the step could be tucked up against the bumper to keep it out of the way.

In trucks equipped with air suspension, the step could also be connected to an onboard controller that tells the rear suspension to lower when the step is being used, Ford says in the application. So the truck would kneel like a city bus to bring the step closer to the ground.

Ford deployable bumper step patent image

Ford deployable bumper step patent image

The application deals specifically with trucks that have a tailgate door—a feature that was just introduced on the refreshed 2024 Ford F-150 full-size pickup. Dubbed Pro Access Tailgate, the door can be opened with detents to stop its at 37-, 70-, or 100-degree angles.

That was one of several updates for the 2024 model year, along with revised styling, bigger screens, and a reshuffled lineup of trim levels and powertrains. The F-150 Raptor R grade also received even more power.

The rear-bumper step didn’t make the cut, but since it was designed to be used in combination with a tailgate door, perhaps Ford will add it to production vehicles in the future.

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