Next GM Pickups Might Go Carbon Fiber

2017-SEMA-Chevrolet-Silverado-Performance-002 II

The all-new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra half-ton pickup trucks are due in 2018, and it looks like they might have some interesting innovations to keep them competitive.

According to the Wall Street Journal (subscription required), GM is going to use carbon fiber for the truck bed on certain premium-level vehicles to save weight, which will provide better fuel economy. It also will provide more strength per square inch than aluminum.

Ford made an earthshaking change when it introduced the redesigned 2015 F-150 with aluminum body panels and again with the all-new 2017 Super Duty, also boasting aluminum panels. The change didn't cause Ford to miss a beat; both are still the top-selling vehicle in their class.

Materials such as carbon fiber and aluminum are not new to GM vehicles, but they are mostly found in higher-cost, higher-trim vehicles. Deciding to make a pickup bed from carbon fiber could be a huge risk. Less than 20 years ago, GM invested in fully composite pickup beds with horrible results. Customers and dealers did not accept the lightweight option, which didn't rust and resisted dents, so it was discontinued after just two years on the market.

We would expect the new carbon-fiber bed to be part of a pricey performance package, possibly with a lowered suspension and a new supercharger. No doubt the bed will save weight, but we hope it also will offer added capability or other features — maybe some hidden storage or a custom bed design.

Regardless, this does allow GM to save some weight — which is necessary to meet increasingly challenging governmental fuel economy standards — without having to eat crow and make aluminum beds.

We don't yet know when we'll see the next-generation 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 or GMC Sierra 1500, but we expect them to be revealed during one of the upcoming auto shows in Detroit in January or Chicago in February. More to come.

Manufacturer image; KGP Photography

 

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Comments

Good luck withat...

Alternatives to steel and or aluminum?

Nothing overly difficult about that. Jet aircraft have been built with carbon-fiber components for about the last fifty years.

Several other truck manufacturers have already been there, but it is an effective way to reduce weight. Cheap power and fuel economy upgrade too.

Dumb. Pickups intrinsically have a bad weight distribution, and very bad sprung to unsprung weight ratio, on the rear axle {thanks solid axle}.
So, they need to cut [sprung] weight from the front of the pickup.

Interesting, I was just reading a DOT/FAA document on the flammability of carbon fiber. It certainly is a lot more flammable than aluminum or steel.

Bad idea to take weight off the rear of a pickup, any weight savings should be up front. People will Only have to add weight in thier beds after the fact to get traction.

I wish you the best. Good Luck GM.

Carbon fiber- hard to construct, expensive to repair and just plain expensive. Hard to see this working out for GM.

Read the heading, says "MIGHT", article also says it is stronger than aluminum,

Go ahead and hit my 200 lbs. rear bumper, enjoy your GM being totaled while I drive off!

So basically we have no idea what's going on and we're taking the word of the Wall Street Journal about what GM is doing with pickup beds.

What we do know is magnets stuck to the side of the bed in a July story. What does that mean? Is it just a carbon fiber floor? The other thing is why would you offer it only on upper trim levels? If your doing it for weight savings it has to be across the line up or you'll lose the effect of using the material as well as any volume cost savings.

And the comments about weight distribution. I really doubt GM is going to just throw a carbon fiber bed on the truck and call it a day. I'm sure they are implementing weight reduction across the entire truck.

I'm no metallurgist but why not just go back to a steel bed but shave off some of the thickness to reduce weight?

because the steel is already as thin as it can get and be useful. Any thinner and it's going to be useless.

Gm pickups will be full of glue and rivets soon... just like Cadillacs

Gm pickups will be full of glue and rivets soon... just like Cadillacs


Posted by: Yuppp! | Dec 7, 2017 10:41:42 AM

Cadillacs use spotwelds bonding steel to aluminum.

Carry on.

"aluminum is hard to repair"
"hold my beer lets do carbon fiber"

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah

GOOD LUCK GARBAGE MOTORS WITH CARBON FIVER EASY TO BREAK AND NOW YOU’RE A TRUE GARBAGE MOTORS COMPANY NOW HAHAHAHA. WHERE ALL THE GARBAGE MOTORS COMPANY FAN GIRLYS AT? THIS IS GOOD STUFF FOR THEM.

Cat wait to see some guy smash the bed with a sledge hammer to see what the repair costs are.

Cat wait to see some guy smash the bed with a sledge hammer to see what the repair costs are.


Posted by: Dudlydooright | Dec 7, 2017 11:51:46 AM


————

Your next Ford commercial. I can hear Denis Leary already...

Can't wait for some guy to smash the bed with a sledge hammer and watch the sledge hammer break.
Carbon fiber is much stronger than steel.
And if this makes the back lighter, then great, we can just keep more in the bed without a penalty in mpg to hold the rear down.

Composites like fiberglass and carbon fiber can be configured to be stronger than steel (or aluminum).

The fact that it won't rust and uses less energy to produce is just gravy.

At least two thirds of the commenters on this site could not find their own @ss with both hands, a bloodhound and a flashlight.

Since 2005 Toyota has had composite bed floors in their Tacoma's and for many years I have used and abused those composite bed floors and NO ISSUES over the years!

They are saying they already use this on upper trim levels correct? Why are they not talking about it then? This is the first time I heard of it, and I have been in a GM for quite some time. then again GM does a terrible job marketing anything.

Based on this article, PUTC states that gm is doing things to try to stay competitive. PUTC are you saying prior to this GM was not being competitive?

-CT

I love the idea of carbon fiber! Its extremely strong. BUT....if its also quite expensive. If GM can find a way to keep costs down that is awesome. I for one am tired of how HIGH these prices have sky-rocketed the last 10 years on trucks and SUV's, but yet most American wages have not done the same! It's getting out of hand!!

George_C and Jim, you do know a Class 8 tractor has virtually no sprung weight over the rear axles aside from the fifth wheel assembly, right? Trucks are designed and intended to carry and pull large objects. If your truck is always empty, then you have no one to complain to besides yourself. Reducing sprung weight from the front would just mean a moderate load will unbalance the truck instead of a heavy load. And a heavy bed just to maintain traction? Seriously? Your cargo, tires, and differential are what maintain traction.

"Composites like fiberglass and carbon fiber can be configured to be stronger than steel (or aluminum).

The fact that it won't rust and uses less energy to produce is just gravy.

At least two thirds of the commenters on this site could not find their own @ss with both hands, a bloodhound and a flashlight.


Posted by: papajim | Dec 7, 2017 12:27:07 PM"

There is a big difference between "can be" and "will be". Also, most carbon fiber does not have much energy absorption. I have seen a lot of carbon fiber smashed in RC airplanes and helicoptors. I am not saying that GM is going to do it wrong but doing it right is going to be much more expensive than aluminum. That is why we only see carbon fiber wheels on a few exotic vehicles (mostly made by Ford). As for the bed holding magnets, I expect that most beds will still be steel, much as GM did with their previous foray into non-metallic beds 18 years ago. I just hope for all concerned that this attemps works out better. By the way, there is much more benefit in making unsprung rotating weight(such as wheels) out of carbon fiber than bed weight. Also, replacing wheels is much easier than replacing a bed.

http://www.gm-trucks.com/forums/topic/127619-plastic-truck/

My 2002 Silverado had a composite bed as a $850 option. Included were plastic side panels instead of steel. Drain holes built in were a nice touch. The tailgate could handle more weight than a regular steel tailgate.

As long as the bed can withstand groceries and the occasional trip to the hardware store then it'll be fine for 95% of half-ton truck buyers.

I called this while back.

A while

I wonder GM can afford pay new retooling and can afford spend money for carbon fiber truck's bed?

Posted by: papajim | Dec 7, 2017 12:27:07 PM"
As for the bed holding magnets, I expect that most beds will still be steel, much as GM did with their previous foray into non-metallic beds 18 years ago. I just hope for all concerned that this attemps works out better. By the way, there is much more benefit in making unsprung rotating weight(such as wheels) out of carbon fiber than bed weight. Also, replacing wheels is much easier than replacing a bed.
Posted by: Walt | Dec 7, 2017 1:12:31 PM

I don't see where this really works as an option like it was last time. If they try that I think it will be a huge mistake. What I'm think is this is going to be a CF floor with steel bed rails or something like that. GM has been pushing the mixed materials idea for quite some time. I'd be really surprised if this turned out to be a 100% CF bed.

"My 2002 Silverado had a composite bed as a $850 option. Included were plastic side panels instead of steel. Drain holes built in were a nice touch. The tailgate could handle more weight than a regular steel tailgate.

Posted by: Bert "

That would put the cost a little over $1100 in today's money. From what I gather few dealers where willing to order these beds for fear that they would not be able to sell them for that much extra. I also heard rumors that the plastic became brittle in sub zero weather and some people in cold areas had some major issues with them but I can't vouch for that. Whatever the issue was if GM can make carbon fiber work for a reasonable price today we will all win. If I had to place a bet though I would bet on aluminum, at least for the next 10 years.

When you said the side panels were plastic, was that outside, inside the bed or both?

2017 Honda Ridgeline Gets In On Bed War

..........Just to remind the Ford girls , GM has its own composite material box. I pretty sure your gonna see it again.

Posted by: GMSRGREAT | Jun 13, 2016 5:07:44 PM

"I don't see where this really works as an option like it was last time. If they try that I think it will be a huge mistake.

Posted by: Jack | Dec 7, 2017 2:02:16 PM"

I agree. Few people will opt to spend that much extra money and if you don't do it in volume the cost per unit goes way up. I could see it though as part of a high level (expensive) package for the first few years, just to get the kinks out before committing the entire lineup.

My 2002 Silverado had a composite bed as a $850 option. Included were plastic side panels instead of steel. Drain holes built in were a nice touch. The tailgate could handle more weight than a regular steel tailgate.

Posted by: Bert | Dec 7, 2017 1:23:57 PM

Bert: I was involved in the testing of that composite box. You would not believe the environmental conditions that box was exposed to and passed every test. I wish they offered it in 2015 when I bought my new Silverado. Dent, scratch resistant bed and body panels.

there is much more benefit in making unsprung rotating weight(such as wheels) out of carbon fiber than bed weight.

@Walt

Please cite your source.

It's just my un-educated opinion, but the requirements for making a moving part like a wheel are vastly different than the requirements for producing a truck bed.

A wheel has to bear load from a variety of angles and withstand torque, braking forces and side-loads effectively, without being too heavy. Also a wheel will have to be very strong where it bolts to the hub. Because it rotates at high speed it has to be fabricated in a very uniform density so it will balance at high speed rotation.

A truck bed just has to be strong without being too thick or too heavy.

@GMSGREAT
Why did they drop that option? Guy that works for us had one. It was the only thing on his truck NOT beat up.

"@Walt

Please cite your source. It's just my un-educated opinion,"

That is an interesting challenge coming from one who has openly proclaimed that he will never site his. Besides, ask anyone who has a little bit of education about such matters and they will back me up. It is a little too long for me to go into here and now.

@GMSGREAT
Why did they drop that option? Guy that works for us had one. It was the only thing on his truck NOT beat up.

Posted by: Old GM Guy | Dec 7, 2017 3:07:07 PM

I was never involved in marketing but I assume GM dropped the option because customers were not aware of the benefits (poor marketing) or comfortable with the extra cost at that time. I for one would spend 1,000.00 for that option. That composite box was all but bullet proof. I can't remember exactly, but I believe the whole box including the tailgate came in under 200 lbs. But don't quote me on that, because that was over 20 years ago.

I'd say if GM does it right like Toyota did with the composite instead of carbon fiber they'll do just fine. No worries on durability either. Ive bashed the hell out of my tacoma bed with 80 lb logs, cinder blocks and scrap brake rotors from my work and not even a dent. Its actually a surprise to me that none of the other manufacturers havent caught on yet. I say kudos to GM if they make a decent bed with the material. Who wouldnt like a bed that doesnt dent or rust?

There is a series of articles here that elaborate on GM's plans. Read at least the first three: https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/next-gen-chevy-silverado-gmc-174000685.html

Sounds like GM might be using an aluminum bed that's properly protected and tougher, straight from the factory (if that article is to be believed). After seeing how weak the aluminum F-150 bed is, that would be a good improvement.

Cat wait to see some guy smash the bed with a sledge hammer to see what the repair costs are.
Posted by: Dudlydooright | Dec
/QUOTE


Cheaper then steel me thinks LOLOLOL

https://youtu.be/b3F9PaYqrVw

Some info about the old protec box

Quote from
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/when-gm-couldnt-think-outside-the-box-remembering-pro-tec/

Had I been placed in charge of Chevrolet at the time, I would have made the Pro-Tec standard on either the work trucks or the very top-end model, with the steel bed a no-cost option for the Cro-Magnon plumbers/gentleman farmers out there. It’s hard to believe that “non-promoted $850 option” was the brightest idea the GM marketing people had.

Pro-Tec turned out to be a costly mistake for Chevrolet and GMC, but that didn’t stop Toyota from being the next up to bat. The current-generation Tacoma has a composite truck bed with steel side skins for aesthetic/paint retention reasons
. No extra charge, no other choice, no big deal. Unfortunately for Toyota, feedback has been negative; if you think the GM forum guys hate composite beds and/or don’t understand them, Google “Tacoma cab rattle” and see what you get…
/QUOTE

Dear GM, please make your truck comfortable for a guy 6'4" where the center console is not designed by a midget. And have a 35 gallon plus fuel tank and a big V8 and I will buy it!

I would get a zl1 engine in one of these chevy's. Offer it. Ppl will buy

Now that would be interesting. At least GM would finally be heading to the front of the pack on truck innovation for the first time in a decade. Like Aluminum the costs and risks would be high, repairing a pain, and when it burned there would be nothing left (morons care about that for some reason). But the strength would be impressive, the dent resistance high and avoiding all the work Ford did to manage galvanic corrosion. I don't see it happening in the near future. The costs would make aluminum look cheap. I see Fiat and GM gradually going aluminum with more HS Steel. I could see the insides of truck beds made of carbon fiber (bad news for bedliner makers and spray on liners). Toyota has successfully fielded composit bed interiors for years in the Taco.

I would be more impressed if they would move the steering wheel to where it belongs.



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