General Motors has made efforts to slash weight from its vehicles, and its next-generation full-size pickup trucks might get the most surprising lightweight solution yet. They might be in line for a carbon-fiber-induced diet. The automaker might use the strong, lightweight material in the beds of the next-generation Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.
The use of carbon fiber is often reserved for high-end vehicles, whose pricing can absorb the materials cost. But, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal published on Wednesday, GM could incorporate the material in high-end versions of the trucks to help offset costs. We doubt a basic work truck would feature carbon fiber, at least at the start. The report noted efficient production processes could usher carbon fiber into the beds of lower-trim pickups as well.
2019 GMC Sierra 1500 spy shots - Image via S. Baldauf/SB-Medien
Even if carbon-fiber doesn't make its way into the beds of the next Silverado and Sierra, GM will still use a variety of materials to curb weight. Despite its numerous attacks on Ford's use of aluminum, both of GM's trucks will likely use the material as a more inexpensive weight-reduction solution. The Ford F-150 moved to an aluminum alloy body in 2014, while Chevrolet and GMC stuck with steel. In cars like the Cadillac CT6, GM has employed a multi-material strategy that uses the right material for the right job. Based on its commercials, GM feels aluminum isn't right for its beds, but it could be right for the rest of the body.
The report added the carbon-fiber beds won't arrive immediately. GM may introduce its next-generation pickups as early as next month at the 2018 Detroit auto show, but the report says the lightweight beds are two years out. If carbon fiber does arrive for the GM pickup beds, it would be an incredibly extensive use of the material in a production vehicle; GM sells around 800,000 full-size pickups every year.