General Motors loves to poke at its competitors, especially when it comes to trucks. Weâ€™re all familiar with its recent barrage of ads attacking Ford for using aluminum in the F-150’s bed, but another ad from 2009 may be coming back to bite them.
The ad in question made fun of a new feature that extended a step and handle from the tailgate of the F-150. Chevrolet didnâ€™t have anything similar at the time, so it decided instead to make an ad mocking the step and making it seem like a feature for unmanly weaklings. Chevy resurrected a similar feature in the bumpers of some trucks a few years later, though a recent set of patents shows the automaker is almost replicating the step they ridiculed eight years ago.
The first patent, titled â€œMulti-Panel Hinged Endgate Assembly With Edge Support For Step Panelâ€�, was published in October of last year and shows a two-piece tailgate with an upper portion that folds out to become a step. The step shown in the diagram is similar in theory to the earlier Ford step, but instead of sliding out of the top of the tailgate, it uses a multi-hinged panel to drop down â€” providing additional surface area to step on.
The second patent, titled â€œTailgate Assembly With a Step Assist Handle,â€�Â was published just a few weeks ago and brings the design much closer to the earlier one. This patent shows the step assembly from the earlier diagram, but adds a retractable handle for the user to hold on to as they are entering or exiting the bed.
Chevy must not think that the feature is wimpy any longer, since it decided to put time into developing this solution. I am sure that, if it goes into production, there will be some long explanation on how this version of the step is better than all of the others. Perhaps GM should let its engineers work on a solution before deciding to respond with critical marketing.
I’m sure this won’t be an isolated case and that we’ll see a similar pie-in-the-face situation when GM eventually decides to move to aluminum beds.
(Edit: Chevrolet originally had a bumper step feature on the GMT805 Avalanche starting in 2001, as pointed out by commenter APaGttH)
[Images: General Motors]