The term 'liftgate' was coined by William C. Anthony, a mechanical engineer from Peoria, Illinois in 1941. However, the genesis of it began decades earlier when he started with an aftermarket automotive solution with a product designed specifically for the enormously popular Ford Model T and an invention that we still refer to today as..... a dump truck.
Henry Ford was so impressed that he hired Anthony to work directly for the Ford Motor Company instead of in the aftermarket. Anthony never stopped making improvements to his initial designs and inventions and one thing led to another.
Skip forward from the 'greatest generation' to the latest generation and we all find that the 'great-grandchild' of the dump truck and the popularity of retrofit power liftgate installations has been steadily increasing in recent years. This can be attributed to several factors:
1. Convenience and Ease of Use: Power liftgates offer a convenient and effortless way to open and close the rear hatch of a vehicle. This feature is particularly appealing to individuals who frequently use their vehicles for transporting groceries, luggage, or other heavy items. One of the most significant advantages of retrofitting a power liftgate is the convenience it provides. Instead of manually opening and closing the liftgate, a power liftgate allows you to operate it with the push of a button. This is particularly beneficial if you frequently transport heavy or bulky items, as it reduces the physical effort required - especially if there is a 'Hands-Free' option available whereby you may open or close with the gesture of a foot.
2. Safety and Accessibility: Retrofitting a power liftgate can enhance safety by reducing the risk of injuries. Manually lifting heavy items or straining to close a liftgate can lead to back, shoulder, or neck injuries. With a power liftgate, the risk of such injuries is minimized, as the lifting mechanism does most of the work. Features such as these - and others offered on some models; depending upon manufacturer - help prevent accidents or injuries by ensuring that the liftgate does not close on objects or people. Additionally, power liftgates make it easier for individuals with physical limitations, such as the elderly or those with disabilities, to access the cargo area of their vehicle.
3. Enhanced Vehicle Value: Retrofitting a power liftgate to a vehicle that did not come equipped with one from the factory can enhance its not only functionality but also its appeal. This upgrade can potentially increase the resale value of the vehicle, as buyers may see it as a valuable addition that improves convenience and usability. Many potential buyers appreciate the convenience and accessibility offered by power liftgates, making your vehicle more desirable in the used car market as power liftgates were once seen as a luxury option - and packaged accordingly adding prices of $4-8,000 to the vehicle (bundled with other options).
4. Aftermarket Availability: The availability of aftermarket retrofit power liftgate kits has also contributed to the increasing popularity of these installations. Aftermarket companies and specialty shops offer a wide range of retrofit kits designed to fit various vehicle makes and models. These kits provide a cost-effective solution for vehicle owners who want to add a power liftgate without purchasing a new vehicle.
While specific statistics on the increase in retrofit power liftgate installations may not be readily available, the growing demand for aftermarket power liftgate kits and the positive feedback from vehicle owners indicate that this upgrade option is gaining popularity.
Retrofitting power liftgates to vehicles can offer a range of advantages, but it also can come with some drawbacks. Let's delve into the pros and cons of upgrading vehicles with retrofit power liftgates.
1. Cost: Retrofitting a power liftgate can be expensive. The cost varies depending on the vehicle type, installation complexity, and additional features. This expense may deter some people from opting for this upgrade but with some of the features - it may be very well worth it. Like many things in life - your doctor, your lawyer, your accountant; etc. - when it comes to automotive upgrades: don't go cheap - you get what you pay for. Get the best and demand it!
2. Potential electrical issues: Retrofitting a power liftgate involves integrating electrical components into the vehicle's existing system. This can sometimes lead to electrical problems, such as short circuits or malfunctions if not properly installed. Ensuring proper installation by a qualified professional can mitigate this risk, but it remains a potential negative depending upon the quality of the component with the best-designed systems requiring relatively minimal interfacing with Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) wiring.
3. Maintenance and repairs: Depending on the manufacturer - or at least the quality of the design and finished product - some Power Liftgates require regular maintenance and occasional repairs. The lifting mechanism, electrical components, and sensors may require servicing or replacement over time. This can add to the overall cost of owning a vehicle with a retrofit power liftgate. But again, as mentioned above - you get what you pay for; and the best designed systems should require almost no maintenance - if any at all.
4. Added weight: Again, dependent upon the product design, retrofitting a power liftgate could add weight to the vehicle, which may slightly impact fuel efficiency. However, the impact is typically minimal, especially with advancements in technology that make power liftgates lightweight. The best designed systems are powerful, lightweight have at least a Two (2) Year Warranty and - its manufacturer - listens to feedback - good or bad.
In conclusion, retrofitting vehicles with power liftgates offers numerous benefits, such as convenience, accessibility, safety, and increased resale value. However, it also comes with drawbacks - depending upon which product and manufacturer you choose - including the cost of installation, potential electrical issues, maintenance requirements, and a slight impact on fuel efficiency. Ultimately, the decision to upgrade a vehicle with a retrofit power liftgate should be based on individual needs, budget, and preferences but the one thing that can't be quantified: does it make your life easier? Tf the answer is, 'Yes' - then it's worth it. Kind of like the dump truck
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