GM Showcases Strategy to Make New Vehicles Lighter

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By Aaron Bragman

Fuel prices are creeping up across the country again. With the days of gasoline less than $2 a gallon a distant memory, new-vehicle buyers are once again looking at fuel economy ratings when purchasing. The demand for fuel-efficient vehicles keeps automakers such as GM working hard to find new ways to boost mpg numbers.

GM recently invited journalists to its Technical Center in Warren, Mich., to get a look at one area in which the company is focusing its efforts: lightweighting. This isn't a euphemism for not being able to hold your liquor; this is an all-out effort by the entire company to lighten new cars and trucks under development. It requires effort at every step of vehicle development — from goal setting and determining how a vehicle needs to perform, to computer modeling and material selection, to manufacturing methods and designing special tools. But most important is drumming home the idea to the hundreds of engineers tasked with developing new vehicles that every gram matters.

To accomplish GM's lightweighting goals, engineers use computer-aided simulation to design pieces of the vehicle's structure out of different metals to see how they'll perform before any parts are built. Smaller efforts such as scalloping the edges of welds and punching lightening holes in structural panels save small amounts per part, but add up to big savings for a whole vehicle. Extensive use of aluminum, several kinds of high-strength steel and magnesium allows for more creative part consolidation, while new bonding techniques are replacing welding with structural adhesive (yes, glue) and rivets. Even welding is getting attention from GM's research and development groups; the company says it's found a way to successfully spot-weld aluminum to steel — something never before accomplished in an automotive application.

The results are new cars that aren't just a little bit lighter than the ones they replace, but significantly lighter. The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu is 300 pounds lighter than the outgoing model despite being a bigger car, thanks to the above techniques. The Cadillac CT6, a car the size of a BMW 7 Series, weighs considerably less than the smaller BMW 5 Series, and includes a variety of materials. The new Chevy Volt is almost 250 pounds lighter than the first-generation model, and the upcoming 2017 Buick LaCrosse is almost 700 pounds lighter than its predecessor. That's like taking two full-sized linebackers out of your backseat.

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So what does this mean for the next generation of GM pickup trucks? Although they declined to talk specifics about the next Silverado and Sierra, GM representatives offered some clues as to what to expect. The GM presentation spotlighted flexibility: employing different materials where they can best be used. Flexibility is evident in the Cadillac CT6's structure — lightweight extruded aluminum (also valued for its predictable deformation properties) are used for the front and side frame rails, but high-strength steel is used for the "safety cage" that surrounds passengers. The CT6 also uses aluminum on some body panels but steel in the floor due to its sound-absorption properties. And the ability to weld steel-to-steel, aluminum-to-aluminum and soon aluminum-to-steel using the same welding gun on the assembly line allows for even more flexibility in using the right materials in the right spot.

What we can infer from this is that the next full-size GM pickups will not duplicate Ford's efforts by going to an almost entirely aluminum body on a steel chassis. Doing so required more effort at Ford than just designing something new; it required a total tear-up of a number of production systems along with production plants. Instead, we're more likely to see the next Silverado look like the CT6 underneath — a mix of materials fashioned to take weight out of every component and panel. The benefit is that building such a truck won't require a complete tear-up of the Silverado assembly plant to put in new equipment. A mixed-material vehicle can be built on the same line as the current mostly steel one. We're eager to see what GM cooks up for the next big trucks when the new ones arrive, given the automaker's recent achievements in making its latest products far lighter than the outgoing ones.

Cars.com photos by Aaron D. Bragman; manufacturer images

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Comments

Not fully understanding the Ford fanboys on this one. Looks like GM is taking their own route to me, (and potentially a better one at that). Look for the 2018 GM fullsize trucks to be the lightest in class following in the footsteps of their recent car releases.
Since we're on the subject of who's following who, where is the Ford entry in the mid size truck segment? When they return guess who's lead they will be following.


Posted by: Say what | May 26, 2016 2:38:02 PM

Just trying to save weight like Ford did to begin with is already following the leader, couldn't they add more Cylinder Deactivations to get better MPG, twist it however you want, a copy is a copy clear this is.

Next up, RAM.

1923 Buick was the first volume brand to offer four-wheel brakes. ....1924 GM’s Milford Proving Ground, in Milford, MI, was the first facility of its kind in the entire auto industry, testing vehicles for safety and performance in a variety of weather and road conditions......1933 GM Research developed a revolutionary two-stroke diesel engine that was smaller, lighter, far more powerful and more efficient ...1933 GM Engineering developed the first independent wheel suspension system, ...1934 Fisher Body developed the industry’s first one-piece all-steel roof....1936 introduced dual windshield wipers.... 1937 Pontiac introduced the industry’s first column-mounted gearshift..1938, The World’s First Concept Car...1939, The First Standard Turn Signals...1948 Buick offered its first Dynaflow transmission, the industry’s first torque converter transmission..1951 GM introduced its first power steering system..1953 With the launch of the first Corvette in 1953, GM offered the industry’s first production volume sports car and created a new market segment and a new cadre of automobile enthusiasts...1962, The First Production Turbocharged Engine..1963, Pontiac Creates the "Muscle" Car..GM introduced the industry’s first energy-absorbing steering column...1970 GM introduced engines that could run on no-lead or low-lead gasoline on all its 1971 U.S. and Canadian models, a major step in reducing harmful vehicle exhaust emissions. GM was the first manufacturer to do so...1972, GM Crash Test Dummies Become the Industry Standard....WHO IS COPING WHO?


Not fully understanding the Ford fanboys on this one. Looks like GM is taking their own route to me, (and potentially a better one at that). Look for the 2018 GM fullsize trucks to be the lightest in class following in the footsteps of their recent car releases.
Since we're on the subject of who's following who, where is the Ford entry in the mid size truck segment? When they return guess who's lead they will be following.

Posted by: Say what | May 26, 2016 2:38:02 PM

Soooooooooooo, how light it too light for a pickup truck. We already know GM had the lightest trucks for a long time. Ford went full aluminum with steel in the right places for crash safety and a robust frame. They came in just under GM. So where is GM saving all that weight currently and how will the aluminum save even more weight with increases in safety standards?

What really needs to happen is the FE guidelines. They are not real world. Sure lighter does help with that little sticker on the window but really a light truck just does a little better in city driving and not highway. You want better highway, go with wind resistance, drag behind the truck, powertrain losses. I think the last thing we need is a full sized pickup that weighs the same as my Ford Edge. And they are getting close.

Frank
When you finish that crow I am waiting, what major contribution has Ford made to the auto industry???

1923 Buick was the first volume brand to offer four-wheel brakes. ....1924 GM’s Milford Proving Ground, in Milford, MI, was the first facility of its kind in the entire auto industry, testing vehicles for safety and performance in a variety of weather and road conditions......1933 GM Research developed a revolutionary two-stroke diesel engine that was smaller, lighter, far more powerful and more efficient ...1933 GM Engineering developed the first independent wheel suspension system, ...1934 Fisher Body developed the industry’s first one-piece all-steel roof....1936 introduced dual windshield wipers.... 1937 Pontiac introduced the industry’s first column-mounted gearshift..1938, The World’s First Concept Car...1939, The First Standard Turn Signals...1948 Buick offered its first Dynaflow transmission, the industry’s first torque converter transmission..1951 GM introduced its first power steering system..1953 With the launch of the first Corvette in 1953, GM offered the industry’s first production volume sports car and created a new market segment and a new cadre of automobile enthusiasts...1962, The First Production Turbocharged Engine..1963, Pontiac Creates the "Muscle" Car..GM introduced the industry’s first energy-absorbing steering column...1970 GM introduced engines that could run on no-lead or low-lead gasoline on all its 1971 U.S. and Canadian models, a major step in reducing harmful vehicle exhaust emissions. GM was the first manufacturer to do so...1972, GM Crash Test Dummies Become the Industry Standard....WHO IS COPING WHO?

So no Ford's have electric starter, A/C, auto trans, all fords are still black, no sunroofs, no fuel injection, no catalytic converters, no electronic fuel injection, no front-wheel drive vehicle with electronic traction control, no column shifters, no independent suspension.

Frank
When you finish that crow I am waiting, what major contribution has Ford made to the auto industry???

Posted by: Jake D | May 26, 2016 2:53:32 PM

Ford has done alot, do your own f'ken research.

The only people eating crow here are the GM NUTTHUGGERS, we told you GM would follow FORD.

You all are morons.

GM also got us to the moon..
GM developed and manufactured the guidance and navigation systems for the Apollo 11 astronauts’ mission to the moon. ....Got us around the moon..GM designed and manufactured the mobility system for the Lunar Roving Vehicle, driven on the moon by the Apollo 15 astronauts. ..the TV you watch...Hughes Electronics’ DirecTV, the first high-power direct broadcast satellite television system in the U.S., was the most successful consumer electronics product launch ever executed up to that time. It was later sold to the News Corporation as part of a corporate re-focusing on the core automotive business. ..The thing that keeps your beer cold...In 1919, GM bought an unknown company that had built the world’s first commercial refrigerator for $100,000 and re-named it Frigidaire. Eight years later, Frigidaire was a household name and was contributing more than $15 million In 1929, GM’s Frigidaire Division brought the world’s first room air conditioner to marketto GM’s annual net earnings. GM also keeps you cool at home.. Helped keep us free...During World War II, GM was the Allied Forces’ biggest supplier, delivering more than $12 billion in goods ranging from airplanes to tanks, marine diesel engines, trucks, machine guns, bullets, and artillery shells. .helps keep us alive..GM scientists and engineers developed and built the world’s first mechanical heart pump in 1952, making possible the world’s first open heart surgery. Today, it is on display at the Smithsonian Institution. ..keeps you busy typing on here..In 1955, GM collaborated with Lockheed and IBM to develop the world’s first computer operating system: today, GM’s cars have 10 times the computing power of that system and more than the computer system used in Apollo moon rockets. ..


Ok Trvll, Ford invented the below, also, ever heard of a Flathead V8


"While working as an engineer for the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit, Henry Ford (1863-1947) built his first gasoline-powered horseless carriage, the Quadricycle, in the shed behind his home. In 1903, he established the Ford Motor Company, and five years later the company rolled out the first Model T. In order to meet overwhelming demand for the revolutionary vehicle, Ford introduced revolutionary new mass-production methods, including large production plants, the use of standardized, interchangeable parts and, in 1913, the world’s first moving assembly line for cars. Enormously influential in the industrial world, Ford was also outspoken in the political realm. Ford drew controversy for his pacifist stance during the early years of World War I and earned widespread criticism for his anti-Semitic views and writings."

Ford invented mass production methods that are used today BY ALL AUTO/TRUCK MFGers.


I'm done here!

Frank
Ford was the last N A auto maker to switch to hydraulic brakes in 1939 and I do believe they are still having problems mastering that.

Frank
Ford was the last N A auto maker to switch to hydraulic brakes in 1939 and I do believe they are still having problems mastering that.

Ford manufactured the Edsel. Let's not forget that, even though one may want to.

2018 is the year as a 2019 model. Contract with Alcoa has been signed. GM is still doing a complete factory overhaul.

Ford loses and GM wins again.

GM's been using aluminum for years, just like they do every thing it starts in the higher end cars first then it trickles down to trucks and suv's. Corvette has had an aluminum spaceframe for 10 years now. Ford may be the first for trucks, but you know GM will do it right. Just look at poor engines ford puts in there vehicles, most are fails. GM made a good decision to wait, first introduce a mid size truck then focus on new 2018 full size trucks. In two years GM will have a mid size line up and an all new full size, Ford will still be stuck with only there flammable fleet queens.

Ford may be the first for trucks, but you know GM will do it right. Just look at poor engines ford puts in there vehicles, most are fails. GM made a good decision to wait, first introduce a mid size truck then focus on new 2018 full size trucks. In two years GM will have a mid size line up and an all new full size, Ford will still be stuck with only there flammable fleet queens.


Posted by: heyyouguys | May 26, 2016 4:10:05 PM


I have to admire the ignorance on this post, better luck next time SLOTH, even you're face is retarded.

Ford may be the first for trucks, but you know GM will do it right. Just look at poor engines ford puts in there vehicles, most are fails. GM made a good decision to wait, first introduce a mid size truck then focus on new 2018 full size trucks. In two years GM will have a mid size line up and an all new full size, Ford will still be stuck with only there flammable fleet queens.


Posted by: heyyouguys | May 26, 2016 4:10:05 PM


I have to admire the ignorance on this post, better luck next time SLOTH, even you're face is retarded.

Ford may be the first for trucks, but you know GM will do it right. Just look at poor engines ford puts in there vehicles, most are fails. GM made a good decision to wait, first introduce a mid size truck then focus on new 2018 full size trucks. In two years GM will have a mid size line up and an all new full size, Ford will still be stuck with only there flammable fleet queens.


Posted by: heyyouguys | May 26, 2016 4:10:05 PM


I have to admire the ignorance on this post, better luck next time SLOTH, even you're face is retarded.

2018 is the year as a 2019 model. Contract with Alcoa has been signed. GM is still doing a complete factory overhaul.

Ford loses and GM wins again.

2018 is the year as a 2019 model. Contract with Alcoa has been signed. GM is still doing a complete factory overhaul.

Ford loses and GMi wins again.


Posted by: Sierra | May 26, 2016 4:30:16 PM


Ford is already working with Alcoa way before the bozos at GM signed the contract, again, GM copies FORD.

...and you're an uber idiot.

Sorry Frank but you need to do a little more research into the first mass produced automobile. Ransom E. Olds was the first to mass produce an automobile. Ford improved the mass production process. You don't always have to be first.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ransom_E._Olds

@Jeff S


" The credit for the invention of the assembly line often goes to Henry Ford because of one very critical addition, Ford put the cars on a conveyor of sorts, creating the all-important moving assembly line."

Thanks, have a nice memorial day weekend.

How is Frank still allowed to express his opinion on this site? It's obvious PUTC doesn't read any comments here. Free for all with Frank leading the pack.


I have to admire the ignorance on this post, better luck next time SLOTH, even you're face is retarded.

Posted by: Frank | May 26, 2016 4:14:29 PM Truth hurts don't it Frank, Ford can't sell to the working man so they need gimmicks, and fleet sales to survive.

How is Frank still allowed to express his opinion on this site? It's obvious PUTC doesn't read any comments here. Free for all with Frank leading the pack.


Posted by: Diesel Power | May 26, 2016 4:55:31 PM

...so why are you posting your drive, GTFO

How is Frank still allowed to express his opinion on this site? It's obvious PUTC doesn't read any comments here. Free for all with Frank leading the pack.


Posted by: Diesel Power | May 26, 2016 4:55:31 PM

Stop weeping, we have tissues for that, your vagina is hurt.

I have to admire the ignorance on this post, better luck next time SLOTH, even you're face is retarded.

Posted by: Frank | May 26, 2016 4:14:29 PM Truth hurts don't it Frank, Ford can't sell to the working man so they need gimmicks, and fleet sales to survive.


Posted by: heyyouguys | May 26, 2016 4:55:44 PM


Your comment is worthless and useless that does not hold any merit. You should shoot yourself.


How is Frank still allowed to express his opinion on this site? It's obvious PUTC doesn't read any comments here. Free for all with Frank leading the pack.


Posted by: Diesel Power | May 26, 2016 4:55:31 PM

...so why are you posting your drive, GTFO

Posted by: Frank | May 26, 2016 5:01:32 PM --------------------------------Why don't you go out and drive, oh yea I forgot you own a Ford.

I have to admire the ignorance on this post, better luck next time SLOTH, even you're face is retarded.

Posted by: Frank | May 26, 2016 4:14:29 PM Truth hurts don't it Frank, Ford can't sell to the working man so they need gimmicks, and fleet sales to survive.


Posted by: heyyouguys | May 26, 2016 4:55:44 PM


Your comment is worthless and useless that does not hold any merit. You should shoot yourself
------------------------------------Ford must of screwed you over big time, I cant see any other reason someone would be so angry about a GM artical ... Next time do your research before purchasing a truck, you may lose some of that pent up anger. Or better yet if your truck would run you could go buy bullets and take your self out of your own misery.

Ford must of screwed you over big time, I cant see any other reason someone would be so angry about a GM artical ... Next time do your research before purchasing a truck, you may lose some of that pent up anger. Or better yet if your truck would run you could go buy bullets and take your self out of your own misery.


Posted by: heyyouguys | May 26, 2016 5:15:48 PM

Keep back peddling, you keep looking more like an uber moron.

@Frank--True, Ford improved upon the assembly process, but he did not invent it. There are a lot of things that Ford did, but there were a lot of things that GM, Chrysler, Mercedes, Honda, and Toyota have done right. Chrysler is credited with the alternator and torsion bars and Charles Kettering with the self starter motor. Soichiro Honda, founder of Honda, as a young man raced Model As and would tinker with them to get more performance out of them.

Toyota and other Japanese became more efficient and improved quality by studying W Edwards Deming, an American engineer, statistician, professor, author, lecturer, and management consultant. Educated initially as an electrical engineer and later specializing in mathematical physics, he helped develop the sampling techniques still used by the U.S. Department of the Census and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. American corporations dismissed Deming but the Japanese did not.

Deming's teachings and philosophy are clearly illustrated by examining the results they produced after they were adopted by Japanese industry, as the following example shows. Ford Motor Company was simultaneously manufacturing a car model with transmissions made in Japan and the United States. Soon after the car model was on the market, Ford customers were requesting the model with Japanese transmission over the US-made transmission, and they were willing to wait for the Japanese model. As both transmissions were made to the same specifications, Ford engineers could not understand the customer preference for the model with Japanese transmission. Finally, Ford engineers decided to take apart the two different transmissions. The American-made car parts were all within specified tolerance levels. On the other hand, the Japanese car parts were virtually identical to each other, and much closer to the nominal values for the parts—e.g., if a part was supposed to be one foot long, plus or minus 1/8 of an inch—then the Japanese parts were all within 1/16 of an inch, less variation. This made the Japanese cars run more smoothly and customers experienced fewer problems.

The important lesson to learn is no one corporation or individual can be the first at everything nor can they be the best at everything. Being open to others ideas and improving upon them is much more important.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Edwards_Deming

I do sent matter if Chevy copied Ford . Chevy is bedder Hahaha hahaha LMBO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

@Jeff S,

Agreed 100%

@ Jeff S

Best comment on here.

When Ford went aluminum intensive the biggest concern industry wide seemed to be the safety compliance issue. Recent tests have confirmed they got it done as well or in most cases better than the rest. GM will be dealing with the same issue regardless of the exact mix of AL to FE they decide to go with, weight will be a bragging point as well. Either way the heat is on and the consumer will be the beneficiary.

Papajim, why is rust still an issue.I heard a few months ago the Silverado is having rust issues behind the tail lights. New trucks.

Posted by: LMAO | May 26,
/QUOTE

Youre just a Lame Moronic Azz frod trolgirl..

Im in the rust belt and My 08 Silvy has absolutely no rust anywhere,,you losers are just way too jealous of GM quality

Car..GM introduced the industry’s first energy-absorbing steering column...1970 GM introduced engines that could run on no-lead or low-lead gasoline on all its 1971 U.S. and Canadian models, a major step in reducing harmful vehicle exhaust emissions. GM was the first manufacturer to do so...
1972, GM Crash Test Dummies Become the Industry Standard....WHO IS COPING WHO?

Posted by: heyyouguys | May 26, 20
/QUOTE

I wonder how did they manage to get Frod drivers to become crash test dummies..double pay,maybe?
LOL

“I see GM is back to copying FORD and once they do the GM fanbois wont have any more problems with aluminum...”
Posted by: Michigan Bob's Talent Agent | May 26, 2016 8:46:27 AM

Michigan Boob is right, next GM is going to copy the Ford brake master cylinder. GM also wants brake fluid leaking from the master cylinder and trucks that won’t stop. Ford has mastered that, now GM is going to try....lol!

http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2016/05/25/ford-recalls-271k-pickups-to-fix-brake-fluid-leak/

Lightening the trucks surely helps
,however improving AERODYNAMICs of the vehicle by making it more ROUNDED ie closing that gaping hole of a grill in the first place,
,(think Corvette)..yes its more effective to take air intake for the rad way down low in front as thats where low pressure area is,,
Im surprised GM engineers wouldnt know that!?
While at it, make side fender openings for air flow..just like Vette and the old Trans Am style..
Also,it would definitely help making the undercarige more enclosed and smooth for easy air flow and probably easier and cheaper too..

Maybe GM designers should learn from these guys
http://ecomodder.com

HAHAHAHA GOVERMENT MOTORZ FOLLOWING THE BST SELLING TRICK ON THE STATES. HAHAHAHAHA.

What yah talking about son? They are called General Motors Company, 1# truck maker. I don't see where they are following Ford son, no one would want to make junk like a low tech Ford.

That's military grade junk Johnny!


Im in the rust belt and My 08 Silvy has absolutely no rust anywhere,,you losers are just way too jealous of GM quality

Posted by: Chevrolet builds a better way to see the USA | May 26, 2016 6:34:34 PM

Maybe you should drive it in the winter sometime. We already know you lie (26mpg 4.8L ). I spent over the summer $4k repairing rust on a 08 2500 Silverado. Spending similar money on a chevy van. Then throw in the really rusty frames on the 14 model year chevy vans.A buddy of mine also has a 2500 chevy and he is looking to get both his body sills replaced due to rust. So please, stop being an idiot.


Im in the rust belt and My 08 Silvy has absolutely no rust anywhere,,you losers are just way too jealous of GM quality

Posted by: Chevrolet builds a better way to see the USA | May 26, 2016 6:34:34 PM

I would love to see your brake rotors, brake lines, fuel lines, rear diff cover.

I read an article that said GM has 19 patents on the aluminum to steel welding process- so what they are doing has Never been done before. The way I see it, they are going in a completely different direction than Ford. Will it work? I don't know. But since GM can equal f/e of lighter Fords already, shaving several hundred pounds off should put them at the top rather easily. Just imagine a 6.2 with 500lbs LESS in a drag race!

Although GM will try to catch up with Ford's weight-savings aluminum strategy; Ford will have by then the new eco-boost w/450+ HP & 10 speed trans which will certainly wipe the floor again with all V8's including the 6.2....heh heh

huh. I just figured GM's light weighting strategy was to make the sheet metal out of paper thin steel. I guess complaints about fingerprint dents caught up to them and they decided to get serious.

Insurance is going to go through the roof on the new aluminum gm's can you imagine the cost to non gm body shops to buy the tech to weld aluminum to steel.... These are going to be expensive to repair if in an accident which will cause insurance premiums to go nuts on gm pickups.

...which will cause insurance premiums to go nuts on gm pickups.

@Scott

Property damage is the cheap part of car insurance, Scott. Personal injury, and fraud, are the liabilities that give insurers heartburn, not sheet metal.



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