Tow ropes are handy tools for getting vehicles unstuck while off-roading, but Toyota may have found a way to improve them.
In a patent application published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Aug. 1, 2023, Toyota describes a retractable tow rope that rolls out from a reel installed on a vehicle—a bit like a winch.
Such a system would allow drivers to adjust the length of the tow rope by reeling it in or out, eliminating slack and creating the tension needed to tow another vehicle. With conventional tow ropes, slack is taken out by driving the towing vehicle forward until the rope achieves tension, but this isn’t always possible in tight spaces, Toyota notes in the application.
As described in the patent application, the tow rope, which Toyota says can be either heavy-duty fabric like nylon and polyester or a steel cable, has notches for adjustability. These can be used to secure the rope to the tow hitch of the towing vehicle, once it’s reeled out to the optimal length, while a hook or other connector at the end of the rope is fastened to the vehicle being towed.
In the application, Toyota says the reel would likely be housed in a rear wheelwell. This doesn’t seem like the easiest location to access, but the application also states that the reel could be designed to be retrofitted to existing vehicles, or even to be removable.
Patent applications don’t always preview production-ready features, but the timing of this one is interesting. It’s surfacing just as Toyota is adding Trailhunter variants of its off-road models, catering to overlanding enthusiasts. The automaker first showed a Tundra Trailhunter concept at the 2022 SEMA show, and confirmed earlier this year that a Trailhunter grade will be part of the redesigned 2024 Tacoma lineup. The Land Cruiser is also returning to the U.S. for the 2024 model year, providing yet another potential application.
- Polestar taps Mobileye for eyes-off driver-assist on highways
- 2024 Toyota Tundra gains 3-inch lift kit, Nightshade pack
- Ford patents concept of charging an EV with a trailer battery
- 2024 Toyota GR Supra gains price hike, 45th anniversary special
- Ford will make BlueCruise hardware standard