Automotive

GMC puts carbon fiber to work in its truck beds

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 CarbonPro truck bed is made as a carbon fiber tub, similar to what’s done with high-end sports cars and race cars
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The center tire indent on the Sierra CarbonPro's bed accommodates the front tire of most street bikes
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The center tire indent on the Sierra CarbonPro's bed accommodates the front tire of most street bikes
GMC says that motorcycles are one of the most common cargo items in their customers' pickup trucks
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GMC says that motorcycles are one of the most common cargo items in their customers' pickup trucks
Badging on GMC trucks equipped with the carbon fiber truck bed will showcase the CarbonPro label
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Badging on GMC trucks equipped with the carbon fiber truck bed will showcase the CarbonPro label
Extra tie-down points and other convenience upgrades are possible thanks to the properties of carbon fiber
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Extra tie-down points and other convenience upgrades are possible thanks to the properties of carbon fiber
The GMC Sierra Denali CarbonPro, shown here, includes the MultiPro tailgate and carbon fiber bed
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The GMC Sierra Denali CarbonPro, shown here, includes the MultiPro tailgate and carbon fiber bed
The CarbonPro truck bed is made as a carbon fiber tub, similar to what’s done with high-end sports cars and race cars
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The CarbonPro truck bed is made as a carbon fiber tub, similar to what’s done with high-end sports cars and race cars
Added convenience tie-downs help secure loads like motorcycles, snow mobiles, and so forth
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Added convenience tie-downs help secure loads like motorcycles, snow mobiles, and so forth
Indents in the CarbonPro bed's form are specially-made to receive motorcycle tires (both dirt bikes and street bikes)
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Indents in the CarbonPro bed's form are specially-made to receive motorcycle tires (both dirt bikes and street bikes)
GMC's MultiPro tailgate is also an integral part of the new CarbonPro carbon fiber truck bed
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GMC's MultiPro tailgate is also an integral part of the new CarbonPro carbon fiber truck bed
Extensive corrosion and environmental testing was done on the new CarbonPro truck bed
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Extensive corrosion and environmental testing was done on the new CarbonPro truck bed

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.

The GMC Sierra Denali CarbonPro, shown here, includes the MultiPro tailgate and carbon fiber bed
The GMC Sierra Denali CarbonPro, shown here, includes the MultiPro tailgate and carbon fiber 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.

Source: GMC

GMC testing CarbonPro truck bed

3 comments
Pablo
Great... after poking fun at Ford for a sensible choice (aluminum) that saves 700lbs, GM tries carbon fiber, costing maby times more than steel, and saving a whopping 60lbs. You’ll never, ever notice the fuel savings or increased performance. And “heat testing” aside, I want to see one that’s endured 10 years in Phoenix. Carbon fiber is held together with epoxy resin. Left unpainted, it’ll likely have disintegrated by then... But then, these are the people who brought you the Chevy Vega, notably the worst car ever foisted off on America, even considering the Corvair.
ljaques
"Yeah, we can't seem to make the $100k grab from customers a reality, so we're trying something different. That sexy carbon fiber ought to cut loose those last purse strings, eh?"
Bob Stuart
Microplastics are now known to be a major pollutant, and carbon particles are by far the worst of the lot for biology. Truck beds are sure to suffer abrasion, and carbon has almost zero resiliency to resist cracks. This will sell some trucks to men in a hurry, but it is a very cynical choice for the "engineers."