General Motors says the beds of some of its next-generation full-size pickup trucks will be made of carbon fibre to cut weight and improve performance.
Over the past few years, carbon fibre has seen limited use in high-end cars because while it’s light and strong, it’s labour-intensive and expensive to build with. Sources familiar with GM’s plans say it’s likely GM will use carbon fibre, as well as aluminum, to make cargo beds for future versions of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.
Those beds could also be made of carbon-fibre-reinforced thermoplastic, a material GM began working on in 2011 with a Japanese company called Teijin. That firm had developed a way to mold car components out of that material that’d be quicker than conventional carbon-fibre manufacturing techniques.
GM says carbon fibre is 10 times stronger than regular-grade steel but at a quarter of the weight. While aluminum is also lighter than steel, it’s a softer metal that’s not as strong.
Because of carbon fibre’s prohibitive cost, it’s expected GM will reserve the material for high-end versions of its trucks, like the Denali-trimmed GMC Sierra and High Country variants of the Chevy Silverado.
We should see the first such trucks reach showrooms within two years while the company works on ways to cut production costs so it could offer the new cargo beds in less-expensive versions of its trucks.
Ford began building its popular F-Series trucks out of aluminum in 2016, but both it and GM have been beaten to the punch in terms of using materials other than steel in pickup trucks: the bed in Honda’s Ridgeline is made of a plastic composite.