Friday, February 21, 2014

Could the Next GM Pickups Have More Aluminum?

GM is in the process of securing aluminum from major suppliers, presumably to shore up a supply of material for its next-generation high-volume pickup trucks — which GM has neither confirmed nor denied. This could mean it will follow Ford's lead, switching to a more extensive use of aluminum body panels as seen on the 2015 Ford F-150, which debuted at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

According to the Wall Street Journal (subscription required), GM will be using more aluminum in its pickups to help increase fuel economy, and also implied this was in response to the coming Ford half-ton. From our vantage point, given how far out these truck programs are planned out, that's highly unlikely. GM will offer the only three-truck strategy (midsize, half-ton and heavy duty) when its two smaller pickups — the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon — debut later this year.
GM engineers told us at the debut of the Chevy Silverado that they used high-strength steel and aluminum to save about 200 pounds on the new 2014 pickup but in many cases added that weight back in stronger materials and more features and content, keeping the new truck the same weight as the outgoing pickup. Having a smaller pickup for the truck market is another way of improving the overall corporate average fuel economy targets. On the other hand, Ram decided to go with the EcoDiesel powertrain and invest in the ZF eight-speed transmission across its lineup.

Whether Ford will have further impact on the aluminum industry as it relates to the auto industry (or aerospace and big-rig trucks for that matter) remains to be seen.


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