Ladies and gentleman, you read it here first. General Motors is set to officially release its 2019 Sierra Denali, a pickup truck with a never before seen special feature exclusive to the upcoming vehicle—a carbon fiber reinforced plastic bed known as the CarbonPro Box. This is a smart move by GM considering the increasing popularity of mobility trends like electrification and sustainability.
The GMC 1500 Sierra Denali is a full-size pickup truck according to Mark Voss, the Engineering Group Manager of Body Structures, Advanced Composites and Pickup Boxes at General Motors. It introduces CarbonPro Box—a carbon fiber pickup box developed to increase durability, efficiency, and functionality of the truck while offering best-in-class dent, scratch, and corrosion resistance. The CarbonPro Box is the result of 15 years of carbon-fiber development at General Motors. It’s first appearance was in the 2004 Commemorative Edition Corvette, which used a carbon-fiber hood.
This innovative, carbon-fiber pickup bed sets itself apart by employing chopped carbon fiber in one-inch increments instead of unidirectional or woven fiber. The truck box is also thermoplastic-intensive, using a 35% chopped carbon fiber-filled, UV-resistant polyamide 6 resin for the box floor, sides and end panels.
The result? The CarbonPro Box cuts 62 pounds when compared to a bare steel bed. However, with steel beds, buyers would be very likely to add a bedliner, which increases weight. This means actual weight savings with the CarbonPro Box are closer to 100 pounds. The carbon fiber bed has also undergone testing for the dropping of heavy tools and optimized for impact. It is just as strong, if not stronger, than its steel counterparts.
The Sierra Denali is the first of its kind, but there is no doubt that the use of carbon fiber to create lightweight strength and safety in automobiles is more than just a new or passing trend. If heavy-duty pickup trucks are turning to carbon fiber for weight savings and resiliency, it is more evidence that carbon fiber is a safe and strong material — so strong, in fact, that General Motors estimates the bed will outlast the rest of the truck! Carbon fiber can withstand the wear and tear of a pickup truck bed, proving it is strong enough to be used in automotive chassis applications and much more.
Two of the four mobility trends we’re predicting for the future of automobiles are electrification and sustainability. The carbon fiber pickup bed fits right in, as finding unique ways to reduce vehicle weight means better range for electric cars, and a cleaner, greener earth via improved fuel efficiency. Props to GM for leading the charge!