In order to remain in competition with rival Ford Motor, General Motors is planning to scale down the weight of its full-size pickup trucks by employing more aluminum from manufacturers like Alcoa and Novelis.
GM’s 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra are 250-400 pounds lighter than previous models, but Ford’s 2015 F-150 is anticipated to drop at least 700 pounds. It isn’t likely that GM will be able to apply a similar weight reduction so soon, as the Silverado and Sierra have just been redesigned; an overhaul can’t begin until 2019.
Such weight reductions will go to vastly improving the fuel economy of both companies’ trucks; better engineered engines and transmission will also help to curb fuel consumption. GM intends to opt out of conventional steel, instead using lighter materials, such as aluminum and composites.
Both GM and Ford pickup trucks are beneficial to both companies’ bottom line, and stand for almost 10% of all US automobile sales; individually, per-vehicle, the trucks allow for a profit of at least $12,000. It is rumored that, in late 2014, GM will present a special aluminum-intensive redesign of the Silverado: 250 pounds lighter and a 20% improved fuel economy.
As both companies begin to introduce their lightweight models, they have to keep in mind that truck customers don’t want lose the power of their vehicles; but both companies will also have to adhere to new federal fuel economy standards that will begin to intensify in 2017. In 2017, lights trucks will need to average around 29 miles per gallon; by 2025, light trucks will need to average almost 40 mpg.
Alcoa is the main supplier of aluminum body panels for Ford’s 2015 F-150; both GM and Ford‘s current trucks are already using aluminum hoods. Both Alcoa and Novelis, top two suppliers of automotive aluminum sheet products, believe that their sales of aluminum sheets to automakers will triple by 2015.
Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan
July 26, 2013
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