Foldable Truck-Bed Ramps: GM’s Latest Patent Could Make Loading Easier



  • GM’s patent introduces foldable ramps to simplify loading vehicles into truck beds effectively.
  • The ramps are hinged, foldable, and structurally supported, ensuring ease of access and storage.
  • The innovative integrated ramp design aims to offer a practical loading solution for truck owners.

What do you load into your truck bed? A truck’s bed is where many things are carried, stored, and used, and it’s the most distinctive feature of a pickup. This space could be ideal for hauling a load of mulch or soil but also transformed into the central location of your tailgate party. Many people carry dirt bikes, lawn tractors, or ATVs in a truck bed.

With the aim of introducing a feature to assist individuals who regularly use the truck bed and might face significant efforts, GM recently filed a patent about foldable ramps to alleviate the burden of transporting wheeled vehicles in the truck bed. Adding to the idea previously presented by Ford through the corresponding patent registration, General Motors now also has a new patent for cargo beds.

The patent application filed by GM has been granted patent application number US 2024/0017657 A1 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). It was filed in July 2022 and was ultimately approved and published on January 18, 2024. Brian V. Castillo, from Birmingham, Michigan, is listed as the inventor.

In order to give you the most up-to-date and accurate information possible, the data used to compile this article was sourced from various manufacturer websites and other authoritative sources, including General Motors and the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

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GM’s Creation Has The Potential To Significantly Simplify The Loading Of Motorcycles And ATVs, Among Others

Loading wheeled vehicles into truck beds typically requires a set of ramps, commonly crafted from aluminum or wood, and often featuring a metal piece to facilitate the transition from the ramp to the bed.

To address this recurring issue affecting truck users, General Motors recently filed a new patent application for a foldable ramp design (GM submitted this patent on July 13, 2022, and it was published on January 18, 2024).

Even though they are not yet available on the market, their straightforward design could see them being favored over more complex solutions, bringing a new level of convenience to pickup truck owners.

The Ramps Are Constructed With Two Structurally Supported Hinged Sections

GM's foldable ramp patent
General Motors

As described in the patent application, and unlike wooden or aluminum ramps, each ramp consists of two sections interconnected by a hinge in the middle, reinforced with structural supports to withstand the significant weight required for loading. These hinges incorporate a tension element and foldable support sections that extend outward, creating a V-shaped structure.

Once fully extended, these ramps are attached to the tailgate for stability. When not in use, the ramps conveniently fold in half, enabling them to be neatly stowed along the bed walls, optimizing storage space and ensuring ease of access for the user.

This design facilitates easy deployment and retraction of the ramps while guaranteeing stability and support during loading and unloading tasks, which translates into more versatility. The configuration proposed by General Motors differs from those previously published, such as the ones proposed by RAM or Ford.

Truck Users Have Been Figuring It Out For A While

The challenge of having a ramp that facilitates loading various items onto the pickup truck is a problem that has concerned truck users for a long time.

Many of them have devised ingenious ways to simplify this process, as can be seen in the video, and this practice is not new but dates back a long time.

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Embarking on any new project entails a leap of faith. While having enough confidence in the project is the first step to seeing it through, within the journey always lies the possibility of encountering disadvantages that may prevent the idea from achieving the expected success.

What sets this idea apart is its innovative nature. It introduces a foldable truck-bed ramp that stands as a single unit, rather than a separate accessory. This concept may indeed hold enough value to become a success and be featured in many of the trucks of the future, but it still has some challenges to overcome.

It’s Crucial That The Hinges Are Made From A Material Both Resilient And Lightweight

The first aspect to analyze, unequivocally, is the hinges. As the ramp constitutes a single structure, they are the essential component upon which the entire success of the project relies. Therefore, the hinged part of the ramp must be strong enough to support the weight of items being loaded into the truck bed.

This means paying close attention to the materials composing the structure so that they can withstand not only the weight but also the continuous usage that the owner will subject it to. As every truck owner knows, sometimes haste and repeated use can cause unwanted wear over time. This leads to using heavier materials and a thicker structure, resulting in an increase in the truck’s weight.

Should the ramps be excessively heavy, they might not facilitate loading and unloading for users, but rather the contrary. Moreover, the truck’s performance and operational efficiency might be affected. These are variables that must be taken into account when designing the powertrain and the rest of the body.

The Benefit Lies In The Ramp’s Integration, Which Makes It More Practical

Now, looking at the advantages, we know that pickup truck ramps are often either too short or too long. While in the first case, you end up needing to climb at a steep angle to access the bed, in the latter one the slope is less steep, but the ramp itself is more cumbersome and difficult to store.

The folding ramps proposed by GM would allow access to the bed at a gentle angle, making loading easier and faster without the need for extra force. Then, when not in use, they can be folded for convenient storage within the truck bed.

The advantage of GM’s solution lies in its integration. These ramps address the need for a loading ramp that is long enough to create that shallow loading angle while still being capable of being stored within the truck bed without significant modifications to the truck.

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GM Is Not The First Company To Come Up With An Idea Of Truck Bed Ramps

Ford's ramp patent

While GM’s idea is creative and potentially useful, as it addresses a problem that hasn’t been entirely resolved yet, they’re not the only company to come up with a possible solution. Apart from GM, there are other cases where diverse ramp systems for pickup trucks are proposed, including those patented by Ford and RAM.

Ford Came Up With A System Featuring Movable Floor Sections

Ford’s patent filing back in 2023, titled “Extendable Cargo Bed Floor”, introduces a system featuring movable floor sections that enable the bed to extend beyond the pickup’s rear bumper. This would allow people to haul larger items without having the notorious overhang at the back. When not in use, the floor sections can fold up accordion-style and be stored at the front of the bed.

Additionally, the patent discusses the possibility of a section sliding straight out. In this scenario, the extendable bed floor could be accompanied by a split-opening tailgate, dividing it into two sections. When opened, these sections would align parallel to the extended bed floor, acting as extensions of the bed walls. Alternatively, if this feature isn’t required, they could open 180 degrees, creating a workspace complete with tool hooks and auxiliary lights on the inside of each half gate.

RAM’s Concept Also Relies On Fold-Out Ramps Integrated Into The Bed

RAM's ramp patent

On the other hand, RAM’s concept also relies on fold-out ramps integrated into the bed of a pickup truck, similar to the one proposed by Ford, except they did it quite sometime earlier, back in 2015.

The patent, titled “Adjustable Loading Ramp System for a Vehicle” and awarded on June 30, describes a system with two slide-out ramps that are stored on the floor of the pickup bed and locked into channels at the far end of the folded-down tailgate. Sliders enable the user to adjust the width of the ramps to accommodate the vehicle being loaded or unloaded.

Regardless of the case, there’s a long road between patenting an idea and bringing it into production, and automakers often file patent concepts that never make it to market.

Sometimes, the technical hurdles are too great to overcome, while in other cases, automakers patent an idea simply to prevent competitors from using it themselves.

Nevertheless, we appreciate seeing automakers come up with innovative solutions to facilitate the usage of hard-working vehicles as they were intended to be used. Hopefully, one of them will bring their idea to fruition — and help save some backs in the process!


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