GM Aluminum Welding Technique Could Save Automaker Millions
The pickup truck segment is a tough place to be right now. Ford just redesigned its F-150 pickup truck with an aluminum body that cuts weight, and therefore improves fuel efficiency drastically. General Motors, in turn, recently reintroduced its mid-size Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups. The full-size Chevy Silverado was redesigned last year, and was named 2014 North American Truck of the Year. But in order for GM to remain competitive with Ford, the automaker is going to have to look more seriously into the possibility of including aluminum in its trucks’ bodies.
However, replacing steel with aluminum isn’t the easiest thing in the world. For starters, most plants aren’t equipped to work with aluminum body parts—something Jeep discovered when it talked about moving Wrangler production out of Toledo. Decking factories out to build aluminum-paneled vehicles is an expensive feat, and—understandably—GM isn’t quite ready to invest in such an overhaul.
Instead, GM is looking into an aluminum welding technique that will upgrade existing steel welding machinery and adapt it for use with aluminum. This technology is currently used to weld aluminum doors on the 2015 Cadillac CTS, aluminum liftgates on the Chevy Tahoe, Suburban, GMC Yukon, Yukon XL, Cadillac Escalade, and Escalade ESV, as well as the C7 Corvette’s aluminum underbody. So adapting this GM aluminum welding technique to possibly produce an aluminum Silverado in the future wouldn’t be all that expensive for the automaker.
As managing director of consulting firm Ducker Worldwide, Richard Schultz, said to Automotive News, “GM will not have to spend $359 million to retool a plant if they decide to do an aluminum Silverado.” And that’s something we’re pretty certain The General would be happy to get on board with.
News Source: Automotive News (subscription required)