GMC puts carbon fiber to work in its truck beds
Starting in early June, GMC will begin offering carbon fiber truck beds for its Sierra line of pickups. The Sierra CarbonPro will be offered with the Denali and AT4 half-ton pickups. This is the first purpose-built production carbon fiber truck bed and GMC developed a carbon fiber composite specifically for it.
The CarbonPro truck bed is made as a carbon fiber tub, similar to what's done with high-end sports cars and race cars. The material is slightly different in composition, as GMC worked to find the right mix to work as a pickup truck load bed and is designed to withstand the impacts, loads, and scratching that truck beds are often subjected to. Extensive testing, some of which is shown in the video below, was undertaken to get it right.
The carbon fiber GMC pickup truck bed is said to be more durable, scratch-resistant, and corrosion-resistant than any other truck bed in the industry. It also reduces the weight of the truck bed by 25 percent, reducing vehicle mass by about 60 pounds. Because the carbon fiber grain is a bit rougher than painted steel and able to withstand bumps and scratches without exposing metal to rust, it doesn't require a spray-on liner or other protection.
The GMC Sierra pickup's cargo volume is also increased by a full cubic foot (28.3 liters) thanks to the carbon fiber requiring less density (thickness) than the equivalent steel. This extra room and the ability to form it without stamps or rolls means that extras could also be added to the CarbonPro bed.
Specifically, GMC added indents at the top (cab-side) of the bed to form-fit motorcycle tires and added more tie-down locations for better securement options
The new CarbonPro bed was subjected to drop tests from large and heavy loads, including cinder blocks, 450-lb (204 kg) steel drums of water, and 1,800 lb (816 kg) of gravel. These items, and others, were dropped into the bed at varying heights to simulate the hard work the truck would be expected to do in the real world.
A metal-studded snowmobile was loaded into and taken out of the truck bed repeatedly, including accelerating at full throttle with a 250-lb (113 kg) rider on board. Temperature testing was also done in Arizona and Ontario to ensure that the carbon fiber could withstand harsh weather extremes. Directed heat, from a portable generator's exhaust, was also sent to small portions of the bed to test real-world resistance to wear.
The GMC Sierra line of pickups will receive the CarbonPro truck bed option starting this 2019 model year.