To reduce weight and improve fuel economy, GM may introduce carbon fiber beds on its future pickups. Although the automaker hasn’t confirmed the news, two sources familiar with the plans say the company will use the high-strength material on its new full-size trucks.
The carbon fiber beds could arrive on GM pickups within the next two years. They’ll launch on premium trucks, but the special beds could eventually trickle down to lower trims as GM makes the production process more efficient, reports The Wall Street Journal.
GM is expected to use carbon fiber as part of a mix of materials on its pickup boxes, says one source. The mix would include aluminum, another lightweight material. GM’s rival, the Ford F-150, has featured an aluminum body since 2014.
Because carbon fiber is expensive, it would make sense that the new beds would increase the price of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. Although pricey, carbon fiber is known to be much stronger and lighter than both steel and aluminum.
GM could use carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastic technology that it has been working on for several years with partner Teijin Limited. This process is said to be a faster and more efficient way to make carbon fiber composites, and it could help the material become more mainstream in automotive applications.
The reports come as automakers are trying to meet more stringent fuel economy regulations in coming years. Although GM declined to comment on its next-gen pickups to Automotive News, a spokesman did reveal to the publication that the company is generally focused on using “the right materials in the right place” to reduce weight “without any sacrifice of safety, ride dynamics or utility.”
Redesigned versions of the Silverado and Sierra will go on sale next year, but they won’t include the carbon fiber beds at launch.