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Pickup Trucks: Next GM Pickups Might Go Carbon Fiber

The all-new 2019 Chevrolet Silveradoand GMC Sierrahalf-ton pickup trucks are due in 2018, and it looks like they might have some interesting innovations to keep them competitive.

According to the Wall Street Journal(subscription required), GM is going to use carbon fiber for the truck bed on certain premium-level vehicles to save weight, which will provide better fuel economy. It also will provide more strength per square inch than aluminum.

Ford made an earthshaking change when it introduced the redesigned 2015 F-150 with aluminum body panels and again with the all-new 2017 Super Duty, also boasting aluminum panels. The change didn't cause Ford to miss a beat; both are still the top-selling vehicle in their class.

Materials such as carbon fiber and aluminum are not new to GM vehicles, but they are mostly found in higher-cost, higher-trim vehicles. Deciding to make a pickup bed from carbon fiber could be a huge risk. Less than 20 years ago, GM invested in fully composite pickup beds with horrible results. Customers and dealers did not accept the lightweight option, which didn't rust and resisted dents, so it was discontinued after just two years on the market.

We would expect the new carbon-fiber bed to be part of a pricey performance package, possibly with a lowered suspension and a new supercharger. No doubt the bed will save weight, but we hope it also will offer added capability or other features — maybe some hidden storage or a custom bed design.

Regardless, this does allow GM to save some weight — which is necessary to meet increasingly challenging governmental fuel economy standards — without having to eat crow and make aluminum beds.

We don't yet know when we'll see the next-generation 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 or GMC Sierra 1500, but we expect them to be revealed during one of the upcoming auto shows in Detroit in January or Chicago in February. More to come.

Manufacturer image; KGP Photography

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