BMW has patented a falcon wing door design
It's believed that it'll be used in its future electric SUVs
I know my opinion on this is controversial, but the Tesla Model X's falcon wing doors are no gimmick. They're absolutely fantastic for getting into the middle and rear rows of the car. It's a design feature that I've wished more manufacturers would adopt after experiencing them for the first time. It looks like my prayers might have been answered, as BMW has filed a patent for a falcon wing door design!
It's thought that the new door design will be used on the rear doors of its future electric or electrified SUVs. Why electric or electrified SUVs in particular? Well, the patent for the doors specifically mentions the word "batteries" in the sense of energy storage. As well as the obvious benefits of increased headroom and easy access that you get from the falcon wing doors in the Tesla Model X, BMW's design will allow for more useable space for the drivetrain's energy storage.
Another interesting thing mentioned in the patent is that there are two possible configurations for how the falcon wing doors can be opened. The first configuration is that the door can open with the roof cutout in place, much like a conventional door. The second is that the roof cutout can be detached from the door and opened upwards. The patent mentions that for the doors to be able to do this a new complex mechanism would need to be put into the car, which would increase its weight. In both configurations, the main part of the door swings open conventionally; this is very different to the gullwing-style opening of the Tesla Model X's rear doors. The opening of this big falcon wing rear door could be controlled mechanically, hydraulically or electrically.
So, what future BMW could be the first to use this new rear door setup? The rumour mill suggests that it could be the upcoming X8 and X8 M. A falcon wing-style setup would make logical sense for a big 3-row SUV like the X8 is rumoured to be, plus the additional space the doors would create for batteries would help out with the X8 M's rumoured hybrid powertrain. Recent spy images of the X8 doing the rounds don't seem to show the roof cutouts required for this door setup to work, but as it's a heavily-camoflagued test car BMW may have wanted to hide that from the prying eyes of the car magazines.
Will BMW's design work as well as the quirkier design that's used on the Telsa Model X? Perhaps it could. It'll certainly be a bit easier for people to get used to at first, as the doors open in a much more conventional way whilst still giving the supremely easy access to the rear that you get from Tesla's design. I guess the real test will be when cars equipped with this new rear door system find their way into the real world and we can try them out ourselves for the first time.