Hyundai and Kia have filed a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for a sliding tailgate for SUVs.

First spotted by New Nissan Z forum users, the application describes a tailgate mounted on tracks, not unlike a minivan's sliding doors. It would slide up and onto the roof to open.

The main benefit of this design appears to be space efficiency. The sliding tailgate wouldn't protrude as far up when opened, making it easier to use in garages. It also wouldn't require people to stand back from the vehicle when opening or closing.

Hyundai sliding tailgate patent image

Hyundai sliding tailgate patent image

However, a sliding tailgate like this could also be more difficult to package. Engineers would have to find room for the tracks, which would likely have more pronounced curvature than the tracks for a minivan's sliding doors. In its open position, it seems like the tailgate could also interfere with roof racks and their cargo.

As with all automotive patents, though, there's no guarantee that Hyundai or Kia plans to add a sliding tailgate to a production vehicle. Automakers often apply for patents simply to protect intellectual property. But with SUVs making up such a large portion of Hyundai's and Kia's current lineups, and new electric models on the way, you never know.

We've also seen some novel tailgate ideas for pickup trucks in recent patent filings. Ford filed a patent application for a trisected tailgate, while Rivian filed applications for telescoping and folding tailgates, as well as an integrated tailgate step.