General Motors is allegedly planning to utilize carbon fiber for its next-generation pickup truck beds. Generally reserved for high-end vehicles, carbon fiber will significantly cut weight on the bed design while maintaining strength similar to today’s steel beds.
Due out next year, GM’s next half-ton pickups are expected to use a mix of materials. The company is allegedly taking a different approach from that of Ford by not going to a completely aluminum body and bed. GM has been quick to target the Ford F-150’s aluminum bed in marketing efforts for its Chevrolet Silverado, citing weaknesses of the aluminum design.
Carbon fiber is a rare find on high-volume production vehicles today. Despite being stronger and lighter than most metals, it’s labor-intensive fabrication process makes it expensive to utilize.
While the next-generation Silverado and GMC Sierra are slated to rollout next year, the carbon fiber beds will apparently not be part of the launch. According to sources cited by the Wall Street Journal, the carbon fiber material is still two years out. It isn’t clear what material the the truck beds will utilize initially. AutoVerdict sources have suggested GM will leverage a composite material similar to that of the Honda Ridgeline bed.
Reducing mass on the company’s next pickups is part of a broader plan by GM to shed weight from its vehicles. Nearly every new GM product is seeing mass reduction from its replacement product as the company works to meet increasing fuel economy standards. Thus far the company’s truck lineup has not gone through significant light-weighting; a company-wide effort launched back in 2013 by now CEO Mary Barra.