A bold move to avoid aluminum and ridicule

General Motors might be using carbon fiber construction within the cargo bed of its next-generation 2019 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. The news comes from an insider close to GM who spoke with The Wall Street Journal. Apparently, GM will use the composite beds to save weight while adding strength. Only higher-end trims will be available with the composite box, though its availability could spread throughout the lineup.

The move would come as an alternative to aluminum, which Chevrolet has relentlessly poked fun at Ford for using with its 2015-current F-150. TV commercials and other ads have portrayed Ford’s aluminum beds as weaker than Chevy’s steel beds. Moving to carbon fiber would reduce the bed’s weight while providing more strength than aluminum – or so the insider says.

We can expect GM to debut its new pickups at the 2018 Detroit Auto show in January or the Chicago Auto Show in February. Sales will likely begin in the third or fourth quarter of 2018. GM hasn’t commented on the WSJ report or alluded to carbon fiber being present. There is also no word on whether the beds would be an extra-cost option or come as standard equipment on LTZ or High Country models. We should find out more in the coming weeks, so stay tuned to TopSpeed.com for the latest.

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2019 GM Pickups May Have Carbon Fiber Beds High Resolution Exterior
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Moving to carbon fiber would reduce the bed’s weight while providing more strength than aluminum – or so the insider says.

it might come as a surprise, but this won’t be GM’s first attempt at using alternative materials for cargo bed construction. Back in 2001, the Chevy Silverado 1500 was available with a composite (read: plastic) cargo box as an $850 option. It was called the Pro-Tec bed. Chevy barely advertised the feature but promoted the bed’s inability to rust or dent. The bean counters high in GM’s towers expected to sell 50,000 examples a year, but missed the mark by an insane margin; only 5,000 were sold in 2001 and another 5,000 in 2002. Chevy canned the Pro-Tec bed after just two years, despite the massive $64 million investment in design, development, plant expansion, and production equipment. It was a massive corporate blunder.

Hopefully, GM has been studying its history in order to not repeat the same mistakes. A lot could go wrong with a carbon fiber bed. The material is notoriously hard to produce relative to stamping steel or aluminum and the costs associated are far greater. Perhaps that’s why GM will only use the carbon fiber beds on high-end trims. That would allow fat-wallet customers to eat the development costs before making the bed available elsewhere in the lineup.

2014 GMC Sierra 1500 High Resolution Exterior
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Ram is also rumored to have some innovated bed technology coming, too. Its next-generation Ram 1500 will debut at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show and arrive in showrooms as a 2019 model. Patent drawings and spy photos show the Ram’s tailgate having a 60/40 vertical split, allowing for more customizable uses. The tailgate will open both in the traditional fold-down manner, along with swinging open like French doors. Only the Honda Ridgeline has something similar.

Advancements in bed design have been sorely lacking compared to innovations found elsewhere in modern trucks, so it will be nice to see two automakers debut new bed technologies side-by-side.

What do you think? Is carbon fiber a good choice for a pickup bed? Let us know in the comments below.

References

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Source: The Wall Street Journal

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