With 2019 GMC Sierra Denali Leading the Way, Carbon Fiber Pickup Beds Could Quickly Hit the Mainstream
The 2019 GMC Sierra Denali is the first pickup to be built with a carbon fiber bed. Thanks to General Motors’ breakthroughs in developing the Sierra Denali’s CarbonPro box, many more similarly equipped trucks could soon be on the way.
Mark Voss, GM’s engineering group manager for advanced composites and pickup boxes, tells Car and Driver that GM has found ways to make carbon fiber more affordable, sustainable, durable, and versatile for automotive applications. Until now, carbon fiber has been too expensive and impractical for wide use in mainstream vehicles.
When GMC first announced the new Sierra Denali in March, it said the CarbonPro box would feature “best in-class dent, scratch, and corrosion resistance.”
The CarbonPro box will also weigh 62 pounds less than a steel box. Car and Driver points out that it won’t need a bedliner, either, increasing weight savings even more.
To develop and produce the CarbonPro box, GM has partnered for several years with carbon fiber manufacturer Teijin at its Continental Structural Plastics facility in Huntington, Indiana.
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Teijin and GM use a heated thermoplastic, a compression mold, and chopped carbon fiber to create material that’s stronger, easier to work with, and even tougher than steel.
The carbon fiber that results from this process is easier to reuse. This greatly reduces costs, because the scrap can be shredded, melted, and repurposed instead of thrown away.
The CarbonPro box was also designed to be easily interchangeable with the Sierra’s regular steel box, which should make the assembly process much more efficient.
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News Source: Car and Driver