Built with Steel-Aluminum Combo, New Sierra and Silverado Help GM Gain Ground on Ford
A few years ago, Ford started building its F-series trucks out of aluminum instead of steel. This helped make them lighter and more fuel-efficient than the Sierra and Silverado.
In response, GM strongly considered adopting aluminum construction, too. However, after studying F-series construction and even watching as the trucks were assembled during Ford’s public factory tours, GM engineers decided against the all-aluminum approach.
Instead, they went with an approach that kept the body largely steel but used aluminum in the hood, tailgate, and doors. Meanwhile, engineers developed a light carbon fiber bed for the 2019 GMC Sierra Denali.
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The result: a truck that costs less to produce, is nearly as light as the F-series, and boasts similar fuel efficiency. The new Sierra and Silverado are 450 pounds lighter than 2018 models. They can also achieve up to 23 highway mpg when equipped with V8 engines.
This pickup competition between GM and Ford has high stakes. Rising steel prices due to tariffs could make GM’s advantage short-lived, while rising aluminum prices could dent Ford. A possible NAFTA shakeup could also put GM at a disadvantage since some of its trucks are built at a factory in Mexico.
GM claims that its steel-plus-aluminum approach is giving it a cost advantage vs. Ford’s aluminum-only approach so far. Truck sales pump out enormous profits for both automakers. Any advantage that GM can gain will give it more money to catch up with Ford, invest in premium features for even more profitable high-end trucks, and develop autonomous and electric vehicles.
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News Source: Reuters