Report: Pickup Truck Makers Work to Reduce Weight to Meet New Fuel Economy Targets

Report: Pickup Truck Makers Work to Reduce Weight to Meet New Fuel Economy Targets

General Motors is working to reduce the weight of its future full-size pickups by 10 to 20 percent over the next decade to meet new federal fuel economy standards for cars and trucks, according to a report by Reuters.

"It's a tough task, but we're facing it as grown-ups," said Rick Spina, GM's full-size truck vehicle line executive. "We're going to do everything we can to keep the customer from realizing we've had to make changes in a fundamental way."

Spina said GM hopes to shed up to 500 pounds – about 10 percent – from its half-ton trucks by 2016 to meet corporate average fuel economy requirements of 30 mpg for light trucks, and GM might cut as much as 1,000 pounds per truck to meet even higher efficiency requirements expected by the early 2020s.

A 2011 Chevy Silverado 1500 crew cab with four-wheel drive has a base curb weight of about 5,300 pounds. GM’s next-gen Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500 are expected for the 2014 model year.

Heavy-duty pickup trucks will also be required to meet separate new fuel economy targets.

GM isn’t the only automaker working to lighten its rigs. Reuters also reports similar information about the next Ford F-150 to what we reported in November. Ford is said to be looking at using a magnesium alloy ladder frame and aluminum for the body panels to save up to 800 pounds off the future truck.

Regardless of the weight savings solutions, the lost pounds will almost certainly add dollars to the trucks’ price tags as the truck makers seek to improve fuel economy without sacrificing capability.

[Source: Reuters]


I always thought that the rule of thumb for weight loss was $100 dollars a pound?
500 lb = 5,000 dollars.

I'm disturbed by 2 comments Rick Spina made:
1. "It's a tough task, but we're facing it as grown-ups,"
Previoius decisions were childish?
Is that why they went bankrupt? They faced the world as immature children??
2. "We're going to do everything we can to keep the customer from realizing we've had to make changes in a fundamental way."
Are they going to "cheep out" on material strength and use more plastics but hide that fact from the consumer?

You know, the mileage of these trucks is getting far better with each new generation. There was no need to set a ridiculous requirement of 30 mpg for light trucks by 2016. Had they left the truck manufacturers alone, they could have achieved mid 20s mpg by 2016 without having to produce a truck that will costs way too much. Those bunch of idiots in Congress have no experience in the auto industry.

Hey I know, they should pass a law that the healthcare industry has to provide a cure for cancer by 2020... that will get the job done!!! morons...

I may just buy a car next time, trucks are going to be cars with beds in the future anyway.

If the government would keep out of the vehicle business they would be lighter and cheaper. I do not need mandated side back n butt airbags, just give me a seat belt and front airbags. The big 3 keep shooting themselves in the foot by trying to make thier trucks bigger and badderr then the next guy. Make a 1/2 ton a 1/2 ton, a 3/4 ton a 3/4 ton. A 2010 1/2 ton is bigger and weighs more then a 1990 3/4 ton, go figure...

Make that Cheyenne concept into a small size with the DI 4 and 6 and they will sell like hotcakes

Its just physics, it takes a certain amount of energy to move a big vehicle at a certain speed. Efficiency in converting fuel to turning the wheels isn't likely to increase greatly from what we have now. The most efficient would be some sort of smaller diesel hybrid, but we are still limited by weight and Aero.

I can't see massive weight reductions coming, as you've got to have a heavy vehicle to have a high tow rating. There is no way that the manufacturers are going to give up their 9K+lb ratings, as can you imagine the marketing crap they'd receive?

When I haul a sled in the back of my truck, the 600lbs doesn't make much of a difference as far as I can see. What makes much more a difference is slower highway speeds and drafting to reduce Aero drag.

30mpg for half tons will need many changes and not only weight loss will get there. Smaller 4 cylinder direct injected turbo designs or hybrids if they can get the weights down.

Sound deadening, new technologies, and government mandates have added lots of weight. All those sensors, wires, connectors, fasteners, and computers add weight. They could add more wireless interfaces but that adds reliability and communication fail risks.

Then add all the changes needed to satisfy NHTSA and the Insurance Institute crash testing. Today's cars are crazy heavy.

Funny, when they say "weight savings" I hear "soda can." How are these things going to pass crash tests when you make all the body panels lighter? You know the old saying "you can have it good, quick, or cheap...pick 2" It's getting worse with cars, people want them powerful, comfortable, clean, efficient, safe, and cheap. Realistically, I don't think it's possible to get more than 4 of those in 1 vehicle.

I think they should just downsize the 1/2 ton truck slightly, maybe knock a foot off the length or so. That should save a few hundred pounds there alone. I don't see good things coming out of a Ford magnesium frame. Unless they can find a new way to formulate it, I think it would prove to be too brittle to take the punishment pickup truck owners dish out. I take this observation by dealing with magnesium alloy wheels. I've seen more then one set chip and crack..especially in cold weather.
Leave it to the politicians to start meddling with pick up trucks now...nothing good lasts forever..Soon everything is going to be a plastic POS.

""It's a tough task, but we're facing it as grown-ups," said Rick Spina, GM's full-size truck vehicle line executive. "We're going to do everything we can to keep the customer from realizing we've had to make changes in a fundamental way." Rick Spina,

LMFAO!!!! What's next.

No wonder 3 out 10 top 2011 Executives chosen by MT were Ford Executives.

If the government would stop with stupid oil drilling restrictions all this wouldn't be necessary.

Like others stated, 1/2 the problem with the weight/mpgs of vehicles today is caused by the government.

How much weight has been added, on average, to vehicles in general with newly required EPA equipment over the last decade?

How much weight has been added, on average, to vehicles in general with newly required Safety equipment (crumple zones, airbags, etc) over the last decade?

And lastly, one that chaps my hide but too many people seem to enjoy these days, are all the bells/whistles. Who needs stock DVD/Navi, 16 speakers, 18" or larger rims/tires, all the sound deadening equipment, etc.

Now I'm not saying these aren't all good items to have/want, but they all contribute to the increased weight vehicles have seen over the years. But cars/trucks today would be much more efficient if they didn't have a lot of this crap.

The free market will ultimately re-engineer light pickups. As fuel becomes more expensive, say $5 per gallon, non-commercial owners will either not purchase or demand a more efficient product.

Government interference will just muddy the waters.

"face it as grown ups"what kind of statement is that?how else would you face.who do you have working at "GM"does he mean nothing but kids from has been designing .if the trucks get any lighter or thinner doesnt seem like it would be rugged enough to do its truck like duties

"A 2010 1/2 ton is bigger and weighs more then a 1990 3/4 ton, go figure..."

1990 F-250 XLT Lariat Extended Cab Pickup
Length: 232"
Height: 77"
Width 79"

2009 F-150 SuperCrew 5.5
Length: 231.9
Height: 76.5"
Width: 78.9"

I own a 92 f350 4x4 crew cab and the gross weight is over 10000 lbs.

2010 SuperCrew 4x4 F-150 curb weight: 5628 lbs.

I'm gonna hurry about buy my 2011 F-150 5.0. I honestly hope Ford can make a Mag Frame and Aluminum body panels work good. But I'de rather stick with what I know.

Whats amazing to me is how much heavier trucks have become, yet they are still more efficent than lighter 1/2 ton trucks 20 years ago. 20 years ago your avarage V8 powered 1/2 ton truck made around 200hp and weighed about 4500lbs and on a good day got maybe 15mpg ON the highway with no load and no headwind. Today the avarage V8 powered 1/2 ton makes about 350 to 400hp weighs between 5,000 and 6,000lbs depending on configuration and still manage's to get 17 to 20 mpg on the highway. If the goverment would just get their fat nose out of the auto industry and let automakers progress at more steady pace, then yes trucks will eventually become more efficent more powerful and they wont have to slap these ridiculous price tag's on them.

It really pisses me off that the goverment has to intefere with trucks like this. How about, they focus on the Car and SUV market and leave trucks out of these new bullsh*t standerds. Lets face it, The SUV market though once was a wonderful market full of rugged offroad ready vehicles...Now belongs to the soccer mom's. I don't know how many 4WD Ford Expiditions and Chevy Tahos I see driving around town with a mom and 4 kids or more. Sadly the SUV market belongs to them now...So, why can't the goverment focus on Cars and SUV's to improve the avarage fuel econmy standered? Go ahead and Make Hybrid 4cyl turbo SUV's and Car's that are made out of Aircraft plastic that get 90mpg but cost 50grand to buy...But leave pickups to people who use them. Don't mess with success.

I hate politics.

the future looks dark

@Jerry that is the total weight the truck can carry. I myself own a 83' f250 and a 91' rated at 8700lbs gvwr. But their curb weight is a lot less. Thats just how much the truck can take on the axles and for registration purposes.

@Tanner Whoopse that was supposed to be 8600lbs.

Tanner. I know. I noticed that after I posted. It is not actually my truck but a post I found online. I wasn't able to find the curb weight for a 1990 F250. The dimensions as you can see are virtually the same.

All the bloat is from govt. regulations? Are you guys crazy or just delusional?

A new truck today has more gadgets, features and toys than a luxury car from 1990. Go look at a pickup from 1990 and other than power windows & locks, air con and stereo, that was pretty much it in terms of amenities.

Today you have stuff like;
Self dimming mirrors with built in compass.
Heated power exterior mirrors with built in turn signals.
40gb hard drive on a bazillion speaker stereo system.
Heated and cooled seats with massage function.
Automatic headlights.
SYNC voice command
On Star
Lockers in the side of the bed.
Ladders and hand grips built into the tailgate
etc etc etc

In a pickup truck!!!!!!!! Which is really a glorified farm implement.

A realist would man up and say the problem with the weight gain is all the small little things they keep putting in the trucks to make them more car- like. In other words, the problem is YOU, Joe Consumer, who insists on driving a pickup truck that drives like a car.
You and all the other ninnies who fell for the macho marketing.

But all the weight gain is because of "government regulations."

Where is the rolling eyes smiley when you need it.

Magnesium chassis and aluminum body? That truck would be unrepairable if it got into a moderate accident. Insurance costs will go through the roof.

"Ford is said to be looking at using a magnesium alloy ladder frame and aluminum for the body panels to save up to 800 pounds off the future truck."

The thing the scares me the most about that is that magnesium has no "endurance limit" like steel does. Below a certain stress level, steel can theoretically endure an unlimited number of cycles without a fatigue failure (in theory, not so simple in practice).

In aluminum and magnesium ANY level of stress adds to culmative fatigue of the part and brings it closer to failure. That makes them undesirable for critical structral parts constantly exposed to stress cycles (like frames). Yes Aluminum is used in aircraft, but those are (or should be) carefully monitored and maintained.

"It's a tough task, but we're facing it as grown-ups," said Rick Spina, GM's full-size truck vehicle line executive. "We're going to do everything we can to keep the customer from realizing we've had to make changes in a fundamental way."

If Rick Spina was at GM before the bailout and is still there, why would anybody buy from GM?

He is one of the executive's that led to the failure of GM and got a welfare check to continue their failing ways because big brother will always bail them out. He should have been removed as with all of the executive leaders for driving a good company to the ground. I cannot stand rewarding these losers so they can continue to make stupid decisions. I would not even bother to listen to him.

It is easy to face it as a grown up because they can make mistakes and not have to pay for it as a company, they will call the federal government once again to ask for help. Unfair business advantage GM has in the marketplace!

By the way with China owning 97% of the global rare metals market that would include magnesium this will not be good:

Does this mean the idea of a 7 liter in a truck is now gone?
If I was GM, I would have 4 engine choices:
1. Small V-6 engine (3-4 liters)
2. Midrange V-8 (4.5-5.5 liters)
3. Large Displacment V-8 (7 liter)
4. Light Duty Diesel (4.5 Duramax)

Coupled with this, offer it with three transmission choices:
1. 6 speed automatic
2. 6 speed Hybrid automatic
3. 6 speed manual

Just my 2 cents.

When is GM going to get their 8 speed automatic out?

F-100 a little smaller, lower and have the cab unibody and the bed box on frame. would save at least 1,000 lbs.
ecoboost 2.0l and a 2.5l
diesel 3.2l in the new global ranger
all the engines would be good for at least 30mpg highway
towing 2,000-6,000
and make the F-100 a 1/4 to 1/2 ton
the F-150 is no longer a 1/2 ton its more of a 3/4 to 1-1/4 ton they have gotten so big
and the F-250 and F-350 are now 2 tons
thats why with the new CAFE law ford is going to have to make the f-100 if it does not have the ranger
i would buy a f-150 if it got 30mpg but it does not so i will have to buy something smaller
when gas goes back to 5 dollars truck and suv sales will drop off again and we are already half way there over 3 dollars

@oxi, Magnesium is the eighth most plentiful element on earth and is not a rare earth element. BTW, most rare earth elements are fairly plentiful with China having only around 35% of the earths reserves. About 97% is produced there or refined from ore, but they don't have a lock on the market.


They own the rights to 97% which means they either own the land or the local companies that do.

97%, did you not read the BBC article?

China is cornering the global rare metals market not only for their growth but to also corner the globe. After all you need raw materials or you cannot make squat!

The only thing chidish is posts made by Lou. Anything a GM spokesman has to say and Lou will critisize it. We are all hostage to the govt. cafe regulations rather we like it or not.

The govt is in every facet of our lives rather it's smoking or seatbelts, etc, etc.

Hay Lou, GM is better than Ford and that is certain as death and taxes. Have a nice day now.

Thanks to the Government again...Screwing around with the automotive world !!! They screwed us in the 1970's,slow gas hogging trucks/cars after the muscle/powerful vehicles of the late 50's-early 70's !!! They actually were worse for the environment because with less power they sucked more gas than the more powerful engines in the late 50's -early 70's vehicles..

We finally have nice,big,powerful fullsize trucks and the feds are going to "FORCE" small,tiny,ugly trucks for us or they refer us to the stupid smelly dumb people !!!Libs say it all the time !!

Why dont you Americans just drill for oil,though you are making us Canadians rich by using our oil,as you use more Canadian oil than any other country,thank-you !!! But by doing this you are letting the left wingers,suck up all the land that is filled with oil in the U.S and turning it into park land !!

There is no such thing as Global Warming,Climate Change now they call it Global Disaster !!! Give your head a shake people !!! As they keep changing the name ,you know its fake...their e-mails prove it !!

@Bob - 4 other people criticized the same comment. Any executive, regardless of brand needs to be panned for making such a stupid comment.
I'm not surprised that it came from a GM employee, just like I'm not surprised by your poorly thought out comments.

I guess the future trucks will be butt ugly !!!

As looking at the one in the front end !!!

Short front ends on full size trucks look ugly as hell !!! As the Chev pictured !!! UGLY !!! UGLY !!!

Aluminum is strong and lightweight, why not just use that thought the truck? It's the most abundant earth metal as well so it should be fairly cheap. Like I said previously, GM should offer 4 engine choices: small gas, midrange gas, large gas, and a light duty diesel. The transmission choices should be 6 speed all around with a hybrid option avabile for every engine. A diesel hybrid would be good.

"the F-150 is no longer a 1/2 ton its more of a 3/4 to 1-1/4 ton they have gotten so big"
Posted by: time445

Really? Try real world measurements:

width x height

1987 F250/350
79" wide x 77" high

2011 F150
78.9" wide 76.5" high

'90 F-250 XLT Lariat Extended Cab Pickup
Length: 232"

2011 F-150 CrewCab 5.5
Length: 231.9"

Ah yes, some of us like the "SMALLER" F150's of the olden days. Oh wait....

width x height

1987: 79.0" wide x 77.0" high F150/250/350
1992: 79.0" wide x 77.0" high F150/250/350
1997: 78.9" wide x 76.5" high F150
2011: 78.9" wide x 76.5" high F150

Really the F150 hasn't gotten so big. It is a myth that the F150 is bigger than a 1990 1 ton. They have gotten a bit smaller since they shaved off .1 inches off the sides, .5" in height, and you rarely see a 8' long bed anymore so that makes up for the longer crewcab. It is not the size that is adding weight. It is the materials.

Humm, my 99 sure looks smaller than our 04. And our 96 looks smaller than our 99?
Did I not read that the 11 Screw 4X4 with the eco-boost had a 29 mpg hwy rating?
sounds like we may see the new F-100 er, Ranger sooner than later.
One point I hope you spread far and wide is that if government gets into your life it will be a load of I am a federal retiree and know how the system functions, it may be real it may be fun but it won't be real fun.

Oxi, simply not true. They control 100% of global trade of rare earths because of low price. The USA has plenty of ore. We just don't currently have manufacturing capacity, but could ramp up if needed.

Looks like GMC copied the Honda Ridgeline style just as Honda killed the Ridgeline brand because of poor sales.
Was Honda too far ahead of their time on this design or is GMC going to make the same design mistake that Honda made?

so i should trade in my truck in 2014 for a diesel before they f with them, kk got it.

The truck pictured is actually a concept from 2003. Nothing new by any means...And yes it is ugly.

The best thing FORD could do as for meeting cafe standars and helping employment is

Keep building the Ranger pickup, and add the new generation V6 engines, plus add Ecoboost as well!

If it works as good as they say the mpg is for the F150 the if the goal is lossing weight this Ranger would be a homerun!

Great thing is as the fuel economy standards go up, in some case doubling from 30 to 60 mpg in small cars,the cost of a vehicle is predicted to climb about $3,500 average. Sounds like a nice trade off right? Wrong! Gas will go up 100-150% in price. So the consumer loses, big oil wins because their profits stay up, and the Liberal tree hugging socialist govn't wins because they get their agenda passed!! Wooo Hoooo screw the working man some more uncle Sam!!!

Another thing is as we as a country reduce use and try to save the environment, China keeps polluting and using more thanks to our Govn't and their trade agreements and debt owed to China !!!

i dont know what magazine i read that ford gm and dodge was playing with the ideal of 1/2 diesel. the gm trucks was gettin 32mpg hwy 27city ford and dodge was getting 29hwy 25citsy but the ideal was trash due the emission laws. by the way i have a 2004 3/4 ton ram 4x4 diesel that gets 24hwy at 65 and 18 itown now my pop has 2011 model trucks that only gets 17hwy and 15hwy

Ha...ha! let the fuel prices increase by 100% and we'll see how much the trucks change. Whatever, they should've been working on better fuel mileage long ago instead of increasing HP thru the roof. I'll just drive a car if fuel prices go up, no harm here.


you are right, China owns/operates most of the rare earth worldwide. I will tell you this, I work at a chemical plant that has a rare earth unit (currently mothballed back in 1999, processed Neodymium, Cerium, Yttrium, Sapphire, and a few others) and a company has just recently walked thru the unit to see what it needs to start back up. They are cleaning up the radiation here recently, and the USA may be opening some existing mines here in the near future.

I know this, I work at a plant that "used" to process this rare easth until China built a unit like ours and big business off shored the jobs back in 1999 to make larger profits. Times are a changing my friend. The USA *WILL* be processing rare earths again in a few years, one reason is because even though the plant I work at has shut this unit down, the permit still exists for the radiation. So, it would be very easy to start back up since the infrastructure and some of the trained operators still work here, some of them are on my shift. all we have to do is bring back the liquid-liquid extraction batteries and some raw materials, get the operators back int eh unit from the one they work at right now, and viola!

Just a thought,.....but did it ever cross you guys minds that maybe the engineers are running out of "rabbits to pull out of the old hat?" Gas engines have come a long way, from carburetors, to tbi fuel injection, to mpi injection, to direct injected gasoline and turbocharging, to active fuel management, to double overdrive transmissions, to cutting body weight, ,,.......oh crap what now,.....
Simple math, you can get more energy from a gallon of diesel than a gallon of gasoline. I don't feel that every engine should be diesel, just don't buy something you aren't going to use. Like a mega cab Cummins as your grocery getter around town. The typical automotive purchase is not made intelligently. Consumers should look down the road and see if the vehicle they are purchasing is going to still be what they need in 5-10 years. Instead they get tired of it in one to three years and look for something else. If they had to drive it for 9-10 years hey might make a more informed choice. Example increasing fuel prices in the coming years.

I have a 2008 Ford F-150 2wd with a 5.4 and it is geared at 3.55, and I get 18-20 mpg. I am thrilled with the mileage, and I believe that if we lighten the pickups up much more they will be worthless for working out of, and that is why I put a grill guard on it. Back 15-20 years ago a bumper was functional, and now it's just there for looks, call me old fashioned but I wish the pickups were made heavier like they use to be, so they would last a lot longer, and take a beating better.

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