By on February 18, 2014

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The Wall Street Journal today announced that GM is planning on producing aluminum-bodied pickups for the next generation Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, due for 2018. This comes on the heels of Ford moving the 2015 F150 to an all-aluminum body, with around 97% of the body structure being aluminum (Including the load floor of the bed), which Ford claims has saved 700 pounds off the curbweight of the F150. GM plans to weld panels together as opposed to Ford’s riveted and bonded aluminum panels, to seek further weight savings.

General Motors has secured supply contracts with Alcoa Inc. and Novelis Inc. for their next-generation pickups. Alcoa will also supply aluminum for Ford’s upcoming ’15 F150.

GM’s global product development chief, Mark Reuss,  hinted at considering aluminum-bodied pickups last month:

 

“We need to see how much aluminum is in it, not what they say is in it but what is actually in it,” Mr. Reuss said the night before Ford introduced its truck. “We are going to look at what they advertise as the weight savings from it and then we are going to go back and do some math… We can play this game real easily.”

Sources familiar with GM’s plans tell the WSJ that rather than using riveting and bonding like Ford, GM has developed a process that uses multi-ringed electrodes to weld the aluminum panels, eliminating a considerable amount of rivets from the production process, reducing weight and assembly time. It takes much less time for a machine to weld panels (be it spot or bead welds) than riveting panels together. This process is already used in smaller aluminum panels, like the aluminum hood of the Cadillac CTS-V, the new Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, the last-generation hybrid Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon SUVs.

The alleged move to aluminum for GM represents a major shift in the pickup segment: for the first time in memory, fuel economy is the prime focus, rather than payload, towing or power.  For GM, the move to aluminum can be construed as a tacit admission that their evolutionary approach to their new full-sizers is not adequate. Sales of the new trucks have been disappointing, with inventories approaching 151 days.

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124 Comments on “GM To Produce Aluminum Body Pickups, Secures Alcoa and Novelis As Suppliers...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Sergio will laugh at them all when/if they fail.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    LOL! Always a copy cat. Never anything innovative.

    First Toyota out-innovated GM and the industry with the 2007 Tundra and now Ford out-innovated GM with the aluminum-bodied F150 after soundly beating the pants off GM with the Ecoboost series of engines.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      ? I have not heard of too many people preferring the Tundra to the Silverado.

      • 0 avatar
        raresleeper

        +1

        What he said.

      • 0 avatar
        dash riprock

        Then you have not read any one of a 1000 posts from HDC

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        +1

        By everything I’ve read, the previous gen Tundra refresh couldn’t be called a flop – but certainly not a success. Their advertising was particularly tone deaf during the Great Recession.

        It never achieved its targeted 250K units a year, and only came within 80% of that target one model year. It settled in about 40% to 50% of forecast (as noted by the planned original capacity at San Antonio)

        • 0 avatar
          84Cressida

          “It never achieved its targeted 250K units a year, and only came within 80% of that target one model year”

          The goal was 200,000 and they sold 196,000 that year, selling from February to December 2007.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        The Tundra really is a great truck, even though the sales numbers don’t show it. Same will be said for the new Impala compared to its competition. Often there are factors that carry more weight than the current product. These of course are usually due to repeated problems or shortcomings of past products.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Amen on the shortcomings of past products. I’ve owned the rest before I switched to Tundra 5.7 in 2011; and now I drive the best.

          When the 2007 Tundra was introduced it turned the pickup truck segment on its head.

          Everybody was comparing themselves to Tundra and by everybody I mean F150, Silverado and RAM.

          And then Tundra’s innovations started to appear on the domestic trucks in the years following, but no one in Detroit could ever even come close to that magnificent all-aluminum 32-valve DOHC 5.7 V8; the Rolex of pickup truck engines.

          Tundra may not be everyman’s truck but neither is a Rolls or a Bentley everyman’s sedan.

          It’s all about preference. If you want to drive what everybody else drives, you buy an F150. Rugged, but not classy.

          If you’re loyal to GM, you buy Silverado. Old in design, lagging behind the times in innovation, never an innovator and always at least one year behind Ford, except in Ecoboost which GM doesn’t have since their miserable supercharged engines of the past.

          I can’t come up with anything good to say about RAM since I owned one and it fell apart on me in 1996.

          Ahh, but if you want to drive a halfton pickup truck that is engineered to a worldclass Hino Commercial Truck standard, as in beefier wheel bearings, flex frame and 1-ton-rated 4-piston floating caliper disc brakes, you buy a Tundra — any Tundra.

          It doesn’t hurt that the Tundra incorporates much of the Lexus finesse in the engine and transmission. Driving a Tundra makes you forget you’re driving a truck whereas driving a domestic truck reminds you of it every inch of the way.

          True, the Tundra isn’t for everyone. But for the discerning pickup truck driver, Tundra 5.7 is the only way to go, in any body style.

          • 0 avatar
            Phillip Thomas

            The Tundra hasn’t revolutionized anything, and didn’t even come with a mechanical locking differential, or even a true limited-slip (still true today, I think).

            Both the 4.7 and 5.7 returned abysmal fuel economy.

            The interior ergonomics are moderately awful. The deeply recessed gauges are not well lit during the day, and can be hard to read in the twilight hours as the result. The high-beam indicator is blinding, enough so I had to tape over it on a long drive through empty west Texas.

            Lets talk about the tail gates that bent from general handling, and other build quality woes?

            The only advantage I can think of with the Toyota is that it can be had with 4 doors and a long-bed, which (all?) most other half-tons can’t.

            When it rolled out in 2008, it was hardly revolutionary. What Ford has been doing as of late is revolutionary.

          • 0 avatar
            goldtownpe

            What’s so superior about an automatic mechanical locker?

            That’s exactly what will happen when a locking diff locks on an icy curve: You go sideways into the ditch or off the side of the mountain. I’ll take a brake-based traction control over the G80 any day. Better yet, give me an ARB air locker.

            Abysmal fuel economy?
            http://www.edmunds.com/fuel-economy/we-test-the-tips-part-ii.html
            20.8 mpg at 65mph cruise. Let’s see 2007 Silverado 6.0L try and top that. Only recently have the Big 3 caught up to the Toyota 5.7 in terms of power and torque.

          • 0 avatar
            Phillip Thomas

            goldtownpe,

            “What’s so superior about an automatic mechanical locker?”

            If you have to ask that question, you don’t need to know the answer.

          • 0 avatar
            goldtownpe

            Oh…so you don’t why then? Nor driven one on an icy curvy trail.
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFJI0tLMVpI

          • 0 avatar
            Carlson Fan

            goldto – My ’04 Sierra HD has the factory Eaton locker and trust me after 10 MN winters and 160K I can with certainty state that it doesn’t lock and spin you out on icey roads when going around a curve.

            And PT is correct about fuel economy. Even Tundra owners will tell you it sucks. The OHV roller cam motors in the GM trucks are superior to the car engine under the hood of the Tundra in every way, especially where fuel economy is concerned..

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “And then Tundra’s innovations started to appear on the domestic trucks in the years following, but no one in Detroit could ever even come close to that magnificent all-aluminum 32-valve DOHC 5.7 V8; the Rolex of pickup truck engines.”

            What exaclty is particularly magnificent about that engine in comparison to comparable engines in competing trucks?

            More power? Nah. Better fuel economy? Nope. All aluminum? Not exclusive. More valves? If that’s a thing, Ford has just as many in their 5.0L. So what is it?

          • 0 avatar
            Phillip Thomas

            Well aware of the disadvantage in ice in a corner (Which is still managed by TC), but if your question is “What’s so superior about an automatic mechanical locker?” then I don’t have time to argue with you. You’re a person who would rather 2/10-troll comments.

            Oh snap, son, I’ve got YouTube: youtube.com/watch?v=Z8PpZF77tgk

            Also, it’ really just about sweet burnouts.

          • 0 avatar
            goldtownpe

            Phillip Thomas –
            So if the auto locket is superior, then why couldn’t the GM pickups climbed that hill at GM’s OWN proving ground (conducted by a 3rd party by the way unlike the video you linked to which is a GM produce video)?

            Trolling? Is that what you call it when people dispute your claims with data? Don’t have the time or more like don’t have the knowledge?

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            Engines don’t get fuel economy. Vehicles do.

            The Tundra is heaviest in class, on the biggest tires, with the most ground clearance, and the most aggressive approach angle. Of course it uses more gas. More gas with the 5.7, more gas with the 4.7, more gas with the 4.6, probably still more gas even with the 4.0 if anyone was sucker enough to buy one without a V8.

            Put a leveling kit and 32″ all terrains on the domestic trucks, take off the chin air dam, and they suddenly won’t top 15-16 mpg either.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Dan, there are a great number of Americans who don’t care about fuel economy.

            The evidence is that pickup trucks consistently are the best selling vehicles year after year.

            People who have to worry about fuel economy ought not to buy a pickup truck.

            I don’t care about fuel economy. I use my vehicles as transportation and driving beats walking.

            BTW, I live 26 miles away from the nearest gas pump.

    • 0 avatar

      > LOL! Always a copy cat. Never anything innovative.First Toyota out-innovated GM and the industry with the 2007 Tundra and now Ford out-innovated GM with the aluminum-bodied F150

      So what’s the story going to be when Toyota introduces the alum bodied Tundra? Hey, weren’t you the guy being all elitist about being smart and whatnot earlier?

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Did you forget that Tundra already has an all-aluminum 5.7 V8 over the front wheels, which is just one reason why it handles so nice instead of plowing around a turn. Ford beat the industry with the aluminum bodied F150.

        If you think I’m smart and elitist you can forget about it. I’m the son of a dirt poor legal immigrant and I got mine the hard way. I worked for it. That includes my education.

        I know my station in life and I don’t ever want any of my loved ones at the depths I had to crawl up from.

        • 0 avatar

          One thing worth pointing out to immigrants who believe their horatio alger story is trivially applicable to all (the lazy bums) is that they often start off below their appropriate station so to speak in their adopted land. Working up from there is generally easier than the norm. They also tend be *self-selected* as a highly motivated group.

          • 0 avatar
            wmba

            @agenthex

            There must be at least one more platitudinous stereoytpe you can heap on people you perceive as being like HDC. Come on, think harder. Because your comments reek of an air of superiority and privilege.

            I generally skip HDC’s posts, but he has every right to be who he is and say what he wants.

            To belittle him by saying his position today is due to his being from a group self-selected for success is faux intellectualism masquerading as fact.

            IMHO.

          • 0 avatar

            > There must be at least one more platitudinous stereoytpe you can heap on people you perceive as being like HDC..Because your comments reek of an air of superiority and privilege.

            To place this in context please read this exchange between HDC and AR culminating in my comment at the end: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/vw-workers-reject-uaw-by-narrow-margin/#comment-2805833

            As you can see the burn victim is in full recovery. If speech is relatively free then surely meta-commentary such as yours or mine should be allowed.

            > To belittle him by saying his position today is due to his being from a group self-selected for success

            There’s a popular argument that immigrants are evidence the system is working. My counterargument is therefore suitably systemic and thus doesn’t belittle anyone at an individual level. On the other hand, you might observe that the original argument is quite personal against those deemed to be unworthy of success. Would you honestly not judge my arguments to be quite superior?

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            agenthex, of course you are entitled to your meta-commentary; it is allowed, and even welcomed!

            I’m not offended by you or anyone else taking pot shots at my points of view. I’m surprised anyone even takes the time to read my comments — so thanks for that.

            My philosophy is that as long as I don’t have to pay for it, I don’t give a sh!t about what other people do.

            And I’m doing my level best not to support the current socialist-welfare state of never-ending handouts and freebies for the chronically unemployed and those unwilling or too proud to work.

            I am also fully aware that the current administration is a godsend for some Americans, just not for me and others like me who had to work to accumulate what we have now and are seeing our personal wealth eroded.

            But we all make adjustments so we can maintain our lifestyle, like we recently raised the rents on our all properties 2-6% depending on location and amenities included. More than made up for our losses. Really.

            Another adjustment we make is not to eat out two+ meals a day and we’re not alone. That hurts the small businesses who rely on us to spend our money with them, and they have to let people go because of reduced traffic.

            Yo, there are millions of jobs unfilled in the US but most Americans are too proud to do them so we have to import foreigners to do the work that needs to be done for us.

            I use mainly illegal aliens when I need help because they give me a fair day’s work for the Benjamin that I pay them.

            One time I ran short of help and asked the panhandlers at the local Wal-Mart if they were interested in earning money pre-stacking bricks. None of them were. Seriously!

            BTW, I was born in Huntington Beach, CA to immigrant parents who got here legally from Europe. My dad was Portuguese and got to America in 1946, while my mom came from Germany and got to America in 1934.

            And yeah, I’m pretty damn proud of what I have accomplished and achieved for me and mine in my 67 years of living on this planet, considering I started with nothing but the shirt on my back when I joined the US Air Force in 1965.

          • 0 avatar

            A few things worth pointing out here:

            > And I’m doing my level best not to support the current socialist-welfare state of never-ending handouts and freebies

            yet:

            > I started with nothing but the shirt on my back when I joined the US Air Force in 1965.

            It’s not mentioned much because it’s an uncomfortable fact but the US military is economically speaking a government employer of last resort (ie. jobs bank). They’ll more or less take anybody (who can’t get a better job elsewhere) at low pay for grunt work of dubious value. So your career was basically weaned off the taxpayer dime. Quite uncomfortable, but true.

            > I use mainly illegal aliens when I need help because they give me a fair day’s work for the Benjamin that I pay them.

            Also quite uncomfortable is that the same is true of most everyone working in the US: plenty of immigrants to do the same work for much less. The gubmint is basically the world’s biggest union where you pay your dues (ie taxes) to keep the foreign labor competition out.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @agenthex
            I don’t think you could ever comprehend the commitment required to be in the military. You are a real fool, in the truest sense of the word.

            I discussed with you the other day about professionalism. I take my hat of to HDC for the professionalism he has provided to the US, his fellow countrymen and allies globally.

            I do recommend you joining a service in any NATO or allied country. You will get an education, even an engineering degree;)

            You are obnoxious and quite possibly a troll judging by many of the comments you make.

          • 0 avatar

            > I don’t think you could ever comprehend the commitment required to be in the military.

            In the US it mostly requires finding the way to the recruiting office, and doing what you’re told. I highly doubt it’s substantially higher elsewhere.

            > I do recommend you joining a service in any NATO or allied country. You will get an education, even an engineering degree;)

            I wouldn’t recommend doing so if they only offered what you seem to consider education or engineering degree.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            agenthex, I think you are wrong in your assumptions about me because you don’t know my story.

            Don’t worry, I’m not going to rehash everything I’ve done, achieved and accomplished during my life for you because that has dribbled out over the years that I have been reading ttac.

            And a military career is but one phase of my life. Having looked at life and the real world from different perspectives, I can tell you that life in the real world is far easier than life in a military career of 20 or more years.

            I haven’t been employed since I retired from the military in 1985, seeking instead to make money in other ways to supplement my meager military retirement and VA combat related disabilities compensation.

            I succeeded. We worked very hard for what we have now, and are not willing to share it. The redistribution of MY personal hard-won but meager wealth is a non-starter.

            My 30-plus years of involvement in the auto business was because I was drafted by my younger sibs.

            Reading ttac for me has become a habit dating all the way back to the early days of Robert Farago, to gain perspective about what matters in the car biz.

            However, you are free to assume what you choose about me. The items you addressed are valid but were answered long ago in different threads.

            BTW, if you want to do some research look me up in “Who’s who in the West” and read up on me on LinkedIn.

        • 0 avatar
          dash riprock

          Then you have not read any one of a 1000 posts from HDC

          update:1001

          • 0 avatar
            salmon8ter

            @agenthex,

            Go f*ck yourself. All the sacrifice that has been made and continues everday by our men and women in the military and that’s how you berate them. Saying basically they are good for nothing morons that can’t have job in society? F*ckyou. ungrateful POS!!! I bet you’re a terrorist sympathizer. A-hole!

          • 0 avatar

            > Saying basically they are good for nothing morons that can’t have job in society?

            The reality is that in the US it’s mostly a path for those in the lower classes looking for a way to get by or move up in the world. People are often in the lower classes as a result of bad luck such as born in the wrong location, to the wrong parents, or the wrong ethnic group.

            There’s nothing heroic about being poor, and more effort should be put into solving the root causes instead of glorifying underemployment.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @agenthex
            I do think you really don’t know what reality is.

            Research and find out what the military can offer.

            You probably lack the necessary psychological, intellectual and physical attributes to make you an acceptable contender for a military life.

          • 0 avatar
            salmon8ter

            @agenthex

            There are plenty of people who join the military for other reason than being “unlucky” or “poor”. Many join with college degrees and fly jets or helicopter pilots or doctors and nurses. You are a pompous arrogant bastard. You think you are so much better than everyone else. You sound
            like a liberal. Always looking down on people who aren’t like them or have different points of view….typical trolling loser!

          • 0 avatar

            > You probably lack the necessary psychological, intellectual and physical attributes to make you an acceptable contender for a military life.

            I have no idea how they got my info but the Air Force kept mailing offers for a officer position during college. Little did they know keen-minded Big Al considers me unfit for duty.

          • 0 avatar

            > There are plenty of people who join the military for other reason than being “unlucky” or “poor”. Many join with college degrees and fly jets or helicopter pilots or doctors and nurses.

            I would think the conservative folks are also smart enough to figure out private sector jobs pay better and capitalist enough to take those instead.

            > You are a pompous arrogant bastard. You think you are so much better than everyone else. You sound like a liberal. Always looking down on people who aren’t like them or have different points of view….typical trolling loser!

            Do you seriously think McMoneyBags who tells you to hate liberals while fighting for his war profiteering really cares about you? Don’t be his tool.

          • 0 avatar
            salmon8ter

            @agenthex
            The only tool is you. I get it now! You are a pussy. Not tough enough to fight in he military. Maybe you were too frail. Was probably a nerd that got beat up or picked on and now has a grudge against everyone. I bet your not married. If you were she’s probably nerdy and fat like you are. What a loser!

          • 0 avatar

            > The only tool is you. I get it now! You are a pussy. Not tough enough to fight in he military. Maybe you were too frail. Was probably a nerd that got beat up or picked on and now has a grudge against everyone.

            The real money to be made in war isn’t by the soldier but by the people who lobby to send them there. Guess who they sweet-talk other than your congressmen to lubricate the process? Have they been saying nice things about you? Ponder these questions for a bit instead of embarrassing your peers, and remember to thank the nerd for figuring this out.

          • 0 avatar
            salmon8ter

            @agenthex
            So its true that you are a fat nerd…..what an even bigger loser. I don’t care what people say about me or what they think of me. I’m not some kind of liberal pussy that needs reassurances from others to value my self worth. You know what you should do…..have a few ribs removed and torque your own cock….that’s the only way you’ll ever get self worth. Better yet have your fat mother do it for you since you still live with her……you need a life!

          • 0 avatar

            > I’m not some kind of liberal pussy that needs reassurances from others to value my self worth.

            Yet it feels so good when the folks making a buck off underpaid soldiers taking a bullet talk about bravery, dedication, and patriotism. As an honest man I would have a hard time selling that lie to those incapable of figuring it out.

          • 0 avatar
            salmon8ter

            Its a good thing they don’t need liberal pussies like you to figure it out for them. Last thing I remember was that people are capable of making their own decisions that affect their lives…who are you to think you are better. You’re not.! Frankly…I don’t think you’re an honest anything. You’ve been lying to yourself all your life, patting yourself on the back, torqueing your own cock because even hookers want nothing to do with you. You’re a miserable loser that needs to talk down to people as if you’re on a pedastal and can do no wrong and knows all! I bet it makes you feel.good doesn’t it?. To be so high and mighty?

          • 0 avatar

            Remember, this isn’t about how much nerdy little me respects the soldier, it’s about how much the big-ol’ unscrupulous defense industry which plays soldiers like a flute and get them killed respects the soldier.

            Who’s more important here, me or them? I’ll take me, but I think it’s them.

          • 0 avatar
            salmon8ter

            Of course you’d take you first. You are spineless. Living in your Moms basement jerking it to World of Warcraft. You lack any social skills and in fact is probably a pedophile…….you sick bastard!

          • 0 avatar

            > Of course you’d take you first. You are spineless. Living in your Moms basement jerking it to World of Warcraft. You lack any social skills and in fact is probably a pedophile…….you sick bastard!

            I rest my case that the military is an employer of last resort for folks like these. It’s hard to imagine modern warfight has much use for brainless meatshields.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    Can you choose whether you want a pickup with a turbo, 70 speed transmission, and exotic materials making up the body or one with a iron block v8, 4-speed hydramatic, and steel body panels?

    • 0 avatar
      Phillip Thomas

      Yes, it’s for sale for $2,000 on Craigslist.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        What type of running V8 trucks are you getting for $2000?

        • 0 avatar
          Onus

          Its easy. I have never paid $2000 for a pickup. I have less than that into 2. Got 1 v8, 5 speed manual, 4×4. The other 2wd, v8 diesel, 4 speed automatic. I have $1400 into both.

          You can get a 90′s f150 for that, some early 2000s. GM trucks tend to run a bit more around here. I know in the non rust states finding trucks like this is even easier. My friend in California sends me links on craigslist everyday.

          • 0 avatar
            daver277

            Great post..

            Unfortunately, way too many new pickup truck buyers think it’s reasonable to spend $50k for a ‘work’ truck and don’t realize they are working to support their truck.

            BTW, simplicity is a huge key to longevity.

        • 0 avatar
          Phillip Thomas

          Texas is the home of cheap trucks.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            You are right! The F150 is the best seller there. Number 2 is Silverado.

            No one will find Tundra a cheap truck. The damn things costs thousands more than any domestic, in any trim.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      4 speeds? Wow aren’t you mister fancy pants. When I was a boy we had 2 speed powerglides and we were happy to have them?

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Meanwhile, GM brings out an entirely new pickup truck series that looks like the previous series with a little additional gaudy trim tacked on.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    Wow, 4 year major redesign cycles on full size pickups. It is a crazy new world.

  • avatar
    kincaid

    Sounds like GM’s truck strategy is to follow Ford. Sure got whipsawed on that one. I didn’t know there was that much Aluminum in the world.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Sometimes the second one to develop a technology does it better.

    Welding may be better, but it brings the challenges of warpage and metallurgical discontinuity.

    As for poor truck sales: This is a GM trait (overbuilding, then extending plant shutdowns and piling on incentives), but I’m cautious because of the long winter weather. We’ll know more by the end of Q2.

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    Where’s bigpickuptrucks to tell us how awful aluminum is?

    Just watch, Ram will go that way too soon enough. Aluminum diesel? Hawt.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    What’s that you say? An aluminum Silverado?

    Nobody saw this coming.

  • avatar
    George B

    How many body parts could GM or Chrysler change from steel to aluminum in a mid-cycle update to the current model? Pickup trucks are unique in 1) body has many parts that bolt on separately and 2) the sales volume is huge. Could probably change the front clip and bed to aluminum if less weight became an advantage for sales.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Just a thought but switching to aluminum may require frame changes to limit stress on the body, either being stiffer or changing mounting points or possibly design.

      No idea if that’s so (most likely not) but it does lend to ideas.

    • 0 avatar
      Lt.BrunoStachel

      Didn’t you read the article? GM has been using aluminum body parts for years. Decades if you count back to the 70′s. Current use of aluminum body parts. Hoods on hybrid truck and SUVs and tailgates on almost SUV built in the last 10 years. So yes, it would not be much of a problem to do a mid year switch from steel to aluminum. So, to those who are arguing who was on first how much aluminum does Ford or Toyota currently used on their trucks?

      I do wonder if GM and Ford plan on using virgin aluminum for their truck bodies? I used to deliver a lot of scrap aluminum to both Alcoa and Novelis when I was an OTR driver. Reading some of these replies from the so called experts has my thinking otherwise.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Purely out of curiosity does anyone know where the (3%) of non aluminum in the body is at?

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      Your H1 avatar reminds me that this will not be the first aluminum bodied truck being sold by GM in recent history.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Yes but GM had no hand in building the H1, only selling.
        Galvanic corrosion with the steel on the roof is a known issue.

        Not to forget the H1 was extremely low volume between 92 and 06 less than 12k were produced, of which GM wasn’t in the picture until 98 or so.

        I’m not lambasting the use of aluminum, I’m sure it can be done with good results, otherwise it wouldn’t be done at all.

    • 0 avatar
      CopperCountry

      See C&D:

      http://blog.caranddriver.com/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-the-2015-ford-f-150/

      “The only notable steel components in the truck are the door latches and hinges, body rivets, mounting studs for fitting bolt-on parts, the cross-door side-impact beams, the majority of the firewall, and, of course, the frame. The steel firewall, by the way, is used because steel has optimal noise, vibration, and harshness–quelling characteristics; Ford’s piece uses two bits of steel with a damping material sandwiched between them.”

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        That makes sense, hinges and firewall.

      • 0 avatar
        segxr7

        I’m all for aluminum, but my one concern is how all those junctions of dissimilar metals will hold up after years of winter weather. I’m sure they’ve taken that into account, but still, here in Pennsylvania it’s pretty common to see ~8 year old cars with rust bubbles on the wheel wells.

  • avatar
    LBJs Love Child

    Not the least bit surprised by the decision. VERY surprised by the timing, hot on the heels of their new releases (fingers across throat).

  • avatar
    7402

    And, coming soon, the announcement that they will be using Birmabright. Wait, that was Land Rover, in 1948.

    Alumin[i]um pickups ain’t new.

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    I recall that Chevrolet manufactured an optional plastic composite box for their full size trucks back in 2000. It essentially echoed all the benefits that we’re now hearing about aluminum. I think it only lasted a year.

    Just a thought…if aluminum bodied trucks fail to excite customers, could the stamping dies still be used for traditional cold rolled steel?

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      “Just a thought…if aluminum bodied trucks fail to excite customers, could the stamping dies still be used for traditional cold rolled steel?”

      I really doubt it – not only are the dies special to aluminum, the metal alloy itself is specifically tailored to the die-forming process.

    • 0 avatar
      Phillip Thomas

      The old stepside trucks had composite fenders, at least for the GMT800′s.

      Dually fenders have been composite, roughly since the 1990′s for all makes, though they all switched over at their own pace.

  • avatar
    James2

    By 2018 Ford will be moving on to titanium FTW!

  • avatar
    segxr7

    In the mean time, how much do you want to bet that the 8-Foot-Tall Chain-Smoking Lumberjack Truck Commercial Guy will be shitting on the F-150 for having an aluminum body?

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      I really don’t get where the idea that the material that HUMVEE/H1 bodies, Land Rover Defender bodies and probably half of semi cab bodies are made of is somehow effete came from.

  • avatar
    alsorl

    Lowering the price by $5000 for the GM pickup is its only hope to help sales. My wife and I just saw another one this evening she thought it was used 6 or 7 years old.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Well, it’s interesting.

    I don’t think and I’m glad the global midsizers aren’t heading down the path of aluminium.

    Two differing philosophies. The US creating new technologies to overcome FE issues (and protect production) and the rest of the world, just using steel and diesel and still able to provide less emissions with just a capable vehicle.

    At the end of the day it will come down to expense for business and industry. I’ll put my money on the cheapest to purchase, own and operate.

    Unless the Euro style Ducato’s, Transits, etc become the workhorse of the US and pickups become the realm of those who can afford them.

    • 0 avatar
      Onus

      The vans serve different purposes. The e series and Chevy Express are quite popular as buses, ambulances, etc.

      I don’t see anyone putting a snow plow on the front of one anytime soon, or putting a stupidly heavy utility body on, towing horses, towing gigantic 5th wheel campers ( mostly what i see 3/4 ton and up trucks doing around here ).

      The f150 size vehicles are usually just run about for companies in base trim or passenger vehicles. I never see one doing work. Thus why the EPA is really cracking down on their fuel economy.

      Even if the market opened up are full size pickups wont go anywhere. While i like the idea of the midsize it wont displace full size trucks anytime soon. Having a beater older full size pickup truck is good for any household, 8 ft bed preferably. ( i know i have had to lend the services of mine more times than i can remember ).

      GM sounds like they got caught with their pants down yet again… Nothing new here.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @Onus
        I’m not talking the vans, these vehicles can also come as a cab-chassis configuration.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @Onus
          I’m also not stating the end of full size pickups.

          Don’t become like the rest and assume I’m talking about the demise of pickups.

          Also, HDs will come under a different set of regulations, not CAFE.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @Onus
        Here are some photo’s from Europe. It seems the Euro’s have truck’s modified for ploughing, and they do look very capable.

        http://newsroom.scania.com/en-group/files/2011/10/SNAG_Program-00172.jpg

        http://i.telegraph.co.uk/telegraph/multimedia/archive/01558/snow_1558726c.jpg

        Trucks dedicated for snow removal.

        http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/01/17/article-2263837-16FF6CC0000005DC-940_964x498.jpg

        http://www.doschdesign.com/images2/Red-D3D-UnimogSnowPlow-2.jpg

        • 0 avatar
          Onus

          Thanks for the pictures. I don’t get out much into Europe in the winter.

          Mostly just Russia and they use huge Kamaz trucks to plow with. Way bigger than what the DOT uses here (medium duty dump trucks, usually internationals).

          Chassis cabs van could take much more market if they came in 4 wheel drive. The body style is more flexible. Ford also lost a huge van market when it couldn’t put the 6.7 power stroke in the e series.

          Would an aluminum mid sizer be bad other than more expensive? Maybe not to useful. I’m guessing things don’t really rust there. Cleaning out red sand is much less of a hassle than rust.

          I think we are good at confusing each other. I didn’t plan to jump to conclusion. Admittedly i read posts on here too fast from time to time.

          On the new epa regs for heavy duty vehicles were clearly on the same page. There really be no bad market for vehicles all are getting rapidly more efficient and will continue for the next 20-30 years at least.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Onus
            While offered protection;)

            I think at the end of the day you’ll see the two different philosophies of the ‘rest of the world’ to the US.

            I think I know who’ll win this one.

            The cheapest vehicle to own and operate.

          • 0 avatar
            Onus

            Al, i know my Ambulance people they will pick the vans. They run f450′s right now and they say they beat up the passengers. I tried to tell them buy them with the v10 instead of the diesel. Things are constantly in the shop.

            I got the idea in their head. We will see when they get a new one. I bet its gas. They pay more in fuel ( probably not much ) and save $8000 on the engine option, and another ton on maintenance that doesn’t need to be done.

            The plus side is heavy duty pickups are damn simple. two solid axles, hotchkiss rear suspension, and coils on the front ( for the fords, and ram at least ). You can get one for $30,000 easily with 4×4 regular cab.

            I wonder what would replace these in plowing duty. Contractors run these. The smart ones have gas powered ones. My town has a few to do lots and plow the road sometimes when we get a good storm and the dump trucks are busy.

            They are fair bit smaller than the above pictured, Though those look exactly like the ones used in Russia.

            It’s funny because foreign manufactures own the US heavy duty truck market, and are starting to make their way into the medium duty sector. Then again you Aussies us are heavy duty trucks as well.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    This is interesting and I doubt is a “copy” Ford approach. Planning new products tend to have very long lee times. Frank Davis the Executive Director of Ford’s engineering division said ” We started the serious work on this truck in 2009″ in relation to the aluminum F150. That implies that an aluminum F150 was a consideration before 2009.
    http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2014/01/five-minutes-with-fords-frank-davis.html#more

    Considering the possibility that GMC was planning ahead and not playing copycat catchup, the 2014 GMC siblings were always intended as transition models from the GMT900 platform to the “all new” truck in 2018. It makes a whole lot of sense considering how conservative and dare I say “Toyota like” they were in moving the 2014′s ahead of their replacements.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      @Lou_BC – I’m sure the aluminum F-150 was well known within the industry for a few years now. And that GM has been kicking the Al idea around for a while. But considering how poor “new” GM truck sales have been and the fairly positive public reaction to next F-150, since the Atlas was dropped, GM had to move forward with an all-new and Al GM twins ASAP. And they’ll likely be arriving late 2018 as 2019s.

    • 0 avatar
      VCplayer

      I’m sure GM has been kicking around the idea for awhile, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the decision to pursue it is only recent. This is GM after all, there’s a minimum number of Power Point presentations involved.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Just hope GM’s new beer can pick-ups don’t look EXACTLY like the 2014′s.

  • avatar
    SixDucks

    I think GM’s aluminum welding process will prove to be significant. As was pointed out in an earlier post, the 2014 GM trucks were not all new, and are transitional models that will have a relatively short life cycle (for a truck anyway). For the record, GM has extensive experience with aluminum bodied trucks, going back to the 1959 DLR 8000 semi truck tractor.

    I give Ford credit for being the first to market with an aluminum bodied light truck, but the switch to aluminum is inevitable.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    This change to aluminium bodied pickups highlights the significance the pickup market is to the Big 2 and Fiat.

    There is way too much reliance on these vehicles for the market. One would have thought to make the US better from a ‘green’ perspective why not cars be made of aluminium first? There are many more cars sold than pickups.

    The reality is the US car segment is more competitive and the cost of aluminium bodied cars would have been prohibitive.

    So, what advantage is real an aluminium pickup over a steel pickup? Would the aluminium pickup have evolved if the pickup market was allowed to be as competitive as the car market?

    I don’t think so.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      @BAF0 – The combined fuel saved by Ford and GM aluminum trucks, up to a million new trucks a year, will be more fuel saved than if all other Ford and GM cars went to aluminum bodies. Far more!

      All cars will be aluminum eventually, but building aluminum Silverados, F-150s (and Rams) 1st, is just commonsense. It’s true these 3 full-size trucks are the most profitable cars GM, Ford and Chrysler/Fiat sells. Reliant on these? Of course. They’ll no doubt help fund their future aluminum cars too. And yes the cost of all-aluminum GM, Ford and Chrysler/Fiat cars would be prohibitive otherwise. So what’s your point?

      But the American full-size truck market, including the Tundra and Titan, is as competitive as ANY car segment. Who’s not allowing the full-size truck market “to be as competitive as the car market”??? What full-size trucks are denied entry to the market? Are you talking some French full-size van with a flatbed conversion?

      It’s the full-size truck segment that’s missing from the rest of the would. Their loss. Not our fault… You keep dancing around that fact by offering trucks and vans that are just outside of the segment. Way outside. Vans of all description to big commercial heavy dutys. Ask HDC if he’ll take one of them, ANY OF THEM over his sweet as hell, all-aluminum DOHC V8 Tundra???

    • 0 avatar
      Phillip Thomas

      Half-tons are still counted in CAFE averages, this is why you’re seeing the most attention paid to them, as they average the lowest. This is why Dodge segmented off Ram from the line-up.

      Most of what’s happening is we’re introducing technology that’s been around for many years in cars to the previously stagnant truck market.

      • 0 avatar
        Onus

        I believe all Chrysler brands count as an average. They all have the same vin code for manufacturer (c). I doubt doing the brand split did anything at all.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @Phillip Thomas,
        I do realise the comment you made. I probably have a reasonable better handle on US, CAFE and EPA regs than most in the US.

        Like the respondent above re-read what I wrote.

        I’m asking, are half ton pickups easier to make out of aluminium because of the protection offered to them in the US.

        Less competition allows for greater markups.

        • 0 avatar
          Phillip Thomas

          There is no lack of competition between the big three pickups, there was just no real market push for more exotic/efficietn powertrains or materials.

          You can look for the race to 1,000 lb ft of torque in the HD segment to see where the competition is. The last ten years have been spent on capability, not fuel economy.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Yes, you are correct, because of an insular competitive environment.

            This will allow for expensive pickups.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          @BAF0 – Where is all this “protection” you speak of, for half tons?

          What half tons are the Tundra and Titan “protected” from? Like exactly…

          Is there an Audi half ton pickup we don’t know about? Or a BMW?

          And where is all this “greater markups”. Greater markups than what?

          After rebates, 1/2 ton trucks offer tremendous value for the price of a Camry. Or less… Do you really think they sell so good because their value sucks? You don’t have to get a fully bling’d out luxo truck either.

          Never mind the obscene profitability of trucks. They’re a natural choice for aluminum bodies, before cars. Or before any one particular car. Say a Focus or Impala. And an entire fleet of aluminum bodied cars (from the same OEM) would not collectively save as much fuel as their 1/2 ton trucks.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          @BAF0 – Why must you always troll? I know you want to say it. Go ahead…

          OK, I’ll say it. CHICKEN TAX!!! CHICKEN TAX!!! CHICKEN TAX!!!

          U feel better???

  • avatar

    this move to aluminum is radical and GM is wise to see how it goes for Ford first. I’m not hearing a lot of customer enthusiasm, unlike Ram’s half ton Diesel.

    • 0 avatar
      Phillip Thomas

      Lets be honest, that’s because most of the general public is ignorant. To the end user, as long as the load areas hold up to “normal” abuse, then they’ll never notice the difference… other than a lighter, more fuel efficient truck.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        It will make more difference to Jack and Jill Homeowner, who want the F-150 Office Worker Edition. They’ll like the fuel savings aluminum can yield, they’re not really worried about the durability and they’re not buying fleet specials, so their transaction prices are good.

        Hmmm… if I was Alan Mullaly… I’d consider keeping the F-150 “Classic” in production for a while for fleets.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Let’s be honest. Most of the general public that can swing $45K transaction price pickups is smart enough to know that the repairability and insurance cost issues are far from settled. Only a few years ago, Ford taught its buyers about galvanic corrosion. Audi buyers have learned that repairing an A8 can be a logistical headache in any but the largest markets for the car. Buyers of most new vehicles are aging, and many of them have weathered past technological revolutions that have bitten early adopters. I don’t think this word ignorance means what you think it means.

  • avatar
    wmba

    To those worried about the high energy cost to smelt aluminum from bauxite: it generally only happens once. Aluminum is cheap and easy to recycle and doesn’t rust away to dust like iron/steel when lelt to moulder. Remelting scrap steel is far more energy intensive due to the higher temperatures required, and ts relative lack of thermal conductivity. About a 12 to 1 ratio.

    Of course GM is going to weld their aluminum. Their mission is to raise welding standards for hundreds of thousands of body repair men nationwide who will become experts at disguising warps with bondo. Ford is relying on tin-snips and rivets plus packages of super epoxy. I think I know which is more practical.

    The general tone of the comments here is familiar: highly conservative. Apparently brighter than the automotive structural engineer they assume they know better based on sticking a wet finger up in the air, sensing the wind direction and nodding wisely, “Ah, it be a treacherous aluminum tempest a-comng, Davey me lad! Pray to the dear Lord for it to abate to an iron oxide gale.”

    • 0 avatar
      Phillip Thomas

      It’ll depend where Ford uses riveting and bonding, and where GM plans to fully seam weld. Other than bedsides, there’s not much on a truck that’s not a bolt-on body panel, and most everything else is spot welded and/or glued (Think cab corners, etc) already. Doors, front fenders, bumpers, hoods, tail gate — all are bolt-on panels that won’t need any real special attention. The only place where the rivet-n-bonding method vs. welding would be a concern is in the cab.

      At the very worst, what little welding a body shop will do only effects a small part of the visible exterior sheet metal: the rear pillar and rockers.

      I would expect the bedsides to be bonded as usual for ease of replacement.

      • 0 avatar
        Onus

        I know fords of the late 90′s early 2000′s had unbolt able bed skins (not sure if they still have this). Wish my 1990 had that. I’d put a new one on in a heartbeat.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      “Ah, it be a treacherous aluminum tempest a-comng, Davey me lad! Pray to the dear Lord for it to abate to an iron oxide gale.”

      Consider the possible beneficial side-effects: More demand for aluminum drives prices up; beer cans become thinner yet, but much easier to crush, even on one’s forehead. Result: Men appear even more manly, beer cans take up even less space in recycling bin, thus resulting in more efficient transport to recycling point. (FTW!)


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