On March 1, General Motors officially revealed its 2019 GMC Sierra, which comes with a new optional feature that is exclusive to the upcoming pickup truck: a carbon fiber bed known as the “CarbonPro Box.” The news follows a December 2017 report indicating GM’s lightweight beds could reportedly be ready in two years on the next generation T1 platform pickup trucks.
CFRP helped GMC save 62 pounds (28 kilograms) in the truck bed. During an interview with Motor1, Mark Voss, Engineering Group Manager, Advanced Technology for Body Systems at General Motors, said that results in a 40 reduction in mass compared to traditional beds.
Voss added that the OEM has been working on the concept of the CFRP bed for seven years. In 2011, GM reached an agreement with Teijin, a premier carbon fiber manufacturer, to jointly develop advanced carbon fiber/thermoplastic composite structures for production automotive applications. The result was Teijin’s “Sereebo” process, which combines a 1-inch-long chopped carbon fiber with a Nylon 6 thermoplastic resin system. The fibers are preheated and then molded in a standard compression molding machine in cycle times of 60-80 seconds.
Voss noted that because the system is recyclable, GM is able to recycle scrap from the truck bed and use it in other components of the truck’s structure. Voss also said that because of the extensive use of composites, the bed is dent- and corrosion-resistant.
For a full breakdown of the materials used in the CarbonPro Box, see GMC’s graphic below.