Could the Next GM Pickups Have More Aluminum?

1 Saving Weight II

GM is in the process of securing aluminum from major suppliers, presumably to shore up a supply of material for its next-generation high-volume pickup trucks — which GM has neither confirmed nor denied. This could mean it will follow Ford's lead, switching to a more extensive use of aluminum body panels as seen on the 2015 Ford F-150, which debuted at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

According to the Wall Street Journal (subscription required), GM will be using more aluminum in its pickups to help increase fuel economy, and also implied this was in response to the coming Ford half-ton. From our vantage point, given how far out these truck programs are planned out, that's highly unlikely. GM will offer the only three-truck strategy (midsize, half-ton and heavy duty) when its two smaller pickups — the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon — debut later this year.

GM engineers told us at the debut of the Chevy Silverado that they used high-strength steel and aluminum to save about 200 pounds on the new 2014 pickup but in many cases added that weight back in stronger materials and more features and content, keeping the new truck the same weight as the outgoing pickup. Having a smaller pickup for the truck market is another way of improving the overall corporate average fuel economy targets. On the other hand, Ram decided to go with the EcoDiesel powertrain and invest in the ZF eight-speed transmission across its lineup.

Whether Ford will have further impact on the aluminum industry as it relates to the auto industry (or aerospace and big-rig trucks for that matter) remains to be seen.



Far from "stealing Ford's thunder", this is yet another example of GM solidifying their status as a follower in the automotive industry.

and you already thought the prices on new trucks were high?

Soon Ram, Toyota, Nissan and everyone else will say they will be using more aluminum in their trucks. Which, when you think about it is not a bad thing. Ford will kick start the aluminum movement. Everyone else will see how it goes and learn from Fords mistakes (if any) and make it better. Ram will kick start the small diesel in a half-ton pickup movement, Ford and GM will follow. Nissan already has plans for it. In the end everyone will have an aluminum diesel half-ton. Consider this, they use to make cars out of mostly wood before they were steel. So going from steel to aluminum may not be that much different. Given the mileage marks pickup truck makers have to meet, I think it will be inevitable

Wait until the aluminum market gets turned on its head! Your 45K XLT will now cost 50! Nevermind that full size prices are a rip off already.

GM has probably been working on it for a while now judging by the comments some of their higher-ups have made about it. They don't sound at all critical of Ford's use of aluminum. They don't want to make the mistake of criticizing something they will soon be doing, unlike many of the GM, Ram, and Toyota fanboys that don't realize they may all be made of aluminum eventually.

No more rusty pick-ups in the "salt belt" in the future. It wouldn't surprise me to see fiberglass used on certain area's of the truck also.
The big rig manufactures have been doing that for a while now.

By doing this, GM is helping Ford. By following the leader before the new Fords are even built, it sounds like they have conceded to Fords efforts. Anyone 'on the fence' between Ford and the other brands, will now see that even GM admits that Aluminum is a good idea. More will buy Ford while the other brands scramble to follow.

I would say it's for Cadillac. I don't see all aluminum Silverado in near future. Bits of aluminum here and there, ie, doors, hood... yes, but all aluminum, no.

I heard GM is buying the Aluminum for its Cadallac cars, but more models will follow I'm sure.

On GM Authority months ago they said GM would probably add AL doors around the time the new ten speed comes out.

The kock brothers must own all the aluminum company, what else could possibly be the reason?

The moment I saw this news post I knew that the comments section would have several "they are copying Ford" comments.
I doubt is a “copy” Ford approach.

Planning new products tend to have very long lee times. Frank Davis the Executive Director of Ford’s engineering division said ” We started the serious work on this truck in 2009″ in relation to the aluminum F150. That implies that an aluminum F150 was a consideration before 2009.

Considering the possibility that GMC was planning ahead and not playing copycat catchup, the 2014 GMC siblings were always intended as transition models from the GMT900 platform to the “all new” truck in 2018. It makes a whole lot of sense considering how conservative and dare I say “Toyota like” they were in moving the 2014′s ahead of their replacements.

As I have previouslt mentioned, GMC most likely was planning ahead and it is highly unlikely that anyone was caught off guard by Ford's decision.

The lukewarm response to GMC's new trucks has obviously forced GMC's hand and they will have to accellerate R&D.

It is obvious that the 2014 GMC siblings were meant to be transitional probucts, a weak effort that stemmed from bankruptcy.

@PUTC actually GM has been a leader in the use of alloy in their cars and trucks.

Back in 1960, you could buy several GM cars with aluminum V8s.

In 1971, GM's Vega had an aluminum block. This was a leadership role in new sourcing and design. Since the engine block is one of a car or truck's heaviest components their progress on this was years ahead of Ford or Chrysler.

GM's new truck is impressive.

@Lou BC
you are exactly right. These manufactures have these things in the pipeline for quite a while. I don't understand why people think Ford, GM, Ram ext, do these things overnight. There is a lot of planning that happens (a lot of convincing higher execs) to get these programs moving. I think they are all looking at the best options for their products and if they happen to be the same as other is not a copy cat situation.




Start saving your beer cans, the price of aluminum will go up. It will really pay to recycle.

Aluminum and Magnesium they will all be used a lot more in newer products. Maybe the Dodge 1500 diesel should use a lot more or less of something and get the payload above 500 lbs.
It reminds me of the Ford lightning, a waste of space.
Just a thought!

@RARDOE KID - invest in a new keyboard before you get a new truck. Your Caps lock key is stuck.

or maybe that underfunded public school needs new equipment and to spend more time teaching you proper spelling, and grammar.

I don't care who is copying who or not, that is not the point.

Before Ford's debut last month of its 2015 F-150, with a body made almost entirely of aluminum, GM executives questioned whether such a vehicle could be cost competitive or appealing to U.S. customers. Now what are the aluminum haters going to say?

So a year from now the pickup truck field will be: Aluminum from Ford, Diesels from Chrysler and REBATES from General Motors.

Bottom line: 2016 and/or 2018 is a long way off. Welcome to Malibu II.

I guess no more aluminum beer and pop cans. Price will be way to expensive.

Lou, They are all transitional trucks. Ford changes transmissions. Then Engines. Then overhauls body/interior with minor engine changes. Next will be the transmission again. And and then engines. I see GM and Ram doing the same. And smart in my opinion.

RAM sells 8,000 Eco Diesels in three days!!

that number of diesels might be more interesting if we didn't have 300 million people in this country.

Ford sells a half million trucks each year. GM twins sell just under that.

Eight thousand units, especially something that's been hyped to death for the last 3 bleeping years, doesn't set my soul on fire.

Let's look at those numbers a year from now.

I think you're correct in your assumption that GM is copying Ford. GM isn't.

There is a huge difference in manufacturing techniques.

Bonded and the use of fasteners is much different than welding.

Dealers ordered 8000, 400 were sold.

Or maybe I'm wrong. Several articles are indicating next Silverado to be aluminum.

"Since the new GM trucks are at least four years away, GM now has time to secure the necessary contracts and to identify faster production methods than Ford. The 2015 F-150's aluminum body panels are riveted and bonded, but GM could choose to weld them to together making the production process faster and with less material"

It's being reported that GM was going to switch to aluminum in '08 but financial trouble forced them to back away.

"Sources familiar with the matter tell the newspaper that General Motors considered making the switch back in 2008, but had to put it off due to the financial issues facing the company at that time."

@Gregory J. -thanks for the link. It proves my point about the whole fanboy copycat commentary. It is BS.

Ford's Head Engineer said they started full work on the aluminum truck in 2009 meaning they were looking at it prior. Your links show GMC was planning on it as far back as 2008.
That shows a 5-6 year lead time to the introduction of a new truck.

The Great Recession and GMC's unfortunate collapse and ressurection killed that R&D. We would be looking at 2 aluminum pickup or GMC hitting the market first (assuming a 6 year lead time).

It indirectly proves my point that the 2014 GMC siblings were a post-restructuring interim step leading to the "real" new truck in 2018.

@Lou BC--GM finally had to make some changes for 2014 because Ford and Ram were making changes. When they release the 2014s they knew beforehand what the life cycle would be. I think the same is true of the Colorado/Canyon which will be release next Fall. At best the Colorado/Canyon has a 10 year life cycle.

You were right.

From '09 til '15 for Ford, that's 6 years. If GM was looking at aluminum in '08 six years ahead would be '14 trucks.

I don't know how long has the Corvette had all aluminum chassis but GM is very familiar with this material and I believe the chassis is welded not riveted.

With all honestly. Do we think Ford and GM have no idea what's going on at each others camp? They might not know the details but they have pretty good idea what each one is doing.

This is true ford use a pattern from gm in the Diesel engine ??

Do you thing ford use a gm pattern for aluminium welding???

@Jeff S

Ten year life cycle? The first Colorado was on the drawing board in 1995-96 but did not appear in showrooms until 2003 or so. Dreadful time-to-market performance!

By 2007-08 they could barely give them away. 2004 and 2005 were the only really good years. After than Nissan, Toyota and even the old Ranger were just too much for GM. The product was never competitive.

Pickups are a super competitive market today. GM has been working on the NEW Colorado since at least 2010-2011. They will not have product in showrooms before September, a 2015 model.

At that rate, if your ten year number holds, this series will be lucky to give GM a six year life. By 2021 the Colorado will be dead as hell.

All of this talk about FE is not driving sales activity except maybe with the work truck trims.

Leather, Nav, entertainment, personal device management, horsepower, roomy cabs, soft ride is the big deal.

@Southern IL man Fiberglass is already used in one-ton dualie bedsides.

Hmm, fiberglass bedsides with SMC bed (a la Tacoma), with aluminum cab should be interesting.

@papa jim--10 years at most if you go from 2015 to 2024. By 2025 the new fuel standards will be in their final phase. It could only be 5 years for the Colorado/Canyon. Eventually the full size half tons will lose length and become about the size of the current midsize except maybe they will retain the interior and bed dimensions. The fronts will be shorter.

papa jim I thought you might like the leather and navigation system in that Suburban that you want. Better start saving those beer cans so that they can build you one.

@Jeff S

Sometimes I think you have a problem with reading comprehension--apart from that you are as smart as the average guy on this site.

There is ZERO chance for the new Colorado to be a viable competitor in the segment after 2020. There ain't no 10 years. There may not be even FIVE years based on GM's history with midsize.

The Chevy S10 they were selling in 2001 was simply a face-lift of the one they sold in 1988. We had a hot economy during the 1990s and they simply got away with having an uncompetitive product--Oh, and RAM was still selling some Dakotas in those days which surely helped GM.

@papa jim--GM will run production of the Colorado/Canyon for at least 5 years to spread out development and tooling costs. These trucks will sell well enough. Not everyone needs a bigger truck. Maybe bigger is better for you but not for me or others. Now if they took a foot off the length of the hood of the full size trucks and lowered the height of them then I would be interested in a full size. I don't really want or need to drive a Road Whale. If I really need the capacity of a full size truck I would skip the half tons and go to HDs. Most full size half tons especially with crewcabs are more for hauling people and not for heavy work. I am old enough that I don't have to impress others with having the biggest and most powerful car or truck on the road. As for Isuzu I like my 2008 Isuzu I-370 crewcab a lot regardless of what you think. It has 4 wheel drive, tow package, and heated leather seats. My Isuzu is as big as I will ever need or want. If they do downsize the full size trucks enough then yes the midsize truck will not be needed.

@papa jim--No the 2001 S-10 is the second generation of the S-10 and is much different from the 1982-93 first generation S-10. The second generation was redesigned for 1994 and was continued to 2003 (crewcab thru 2004),

GM just rolled out new power-trains, so a logical next step (to improve mpgs) would be to lose some weight by using more aluminum body panels.

@C - new powertrains? engines yes, transmissions no. Even going on the premise that the engines are "new" is a bit of a stretch.

@ Lou

Yes you're right, no new trannies, just new engines, they have some similarities to the old ones but they are redesigned, so it's not a stretch at all.

@C - GMC trucks are already lighter than Ford. A 700 lb weight loss would give them a definite performance advantage.

Aluminum is expensive and soft,not a good idea..
auto makers should follow the original Henry Fords idea of making the car body from hemp plastic.
It grows fast and could keep plenty of farmers in business
and NO you cant smoke hemp!! LLL

Post a Comment

Please remember a few rules before posting comments:

  • Try to be civil to your fellow blog readers.
  • Stay on topic. We want to hear your opinions and thoughts, but please only comment about the specified topic in the blog post.
  • Your email will not be shown.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In

Home | Buy or Sell a Truck | News | Special Reports

Powered by By using this site, you agree to our terms of service | © 2011 | Privacy Statement | Contact Us

Visit our partner: