Do You Have The Stomach For Magnesium Trucks?

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
do you have the stomach for magnesium trucks

In July, the good old boy contingent was horrified to hear that Ford would contemplate building Ford tough trucks from a material considered good enough for beer cans: Aluminum. Now, they will be absolutely terrified by the news that GM wants to build trucks from a material known to treat heartburn: Magnesium.

It’s all for putting trucks on a weight-loss diet in order to meet fuel economy requirements. Magnesium is 75 percent lighter than steel and 33 percent lighter than aluminum, GM engineer Paul Krajewski told Reuters. Magnesium also costs three to four times as much as aluminum.

The stiff space-age metal is a bitch to work with. Usually, magnesium parts are formed by high pressure die casting. GM developed a way to stamp parts from magnesium sheet metal. Still, the process is slow and complicated: The sheet metal must be heated to 842 degrees Fahrenheit before stamping.

By 2020, magnesium will be able to take out 15 percent of the weight of a vehicle, leading to fuel savings of 9 percent to 12 percent, Reuters says. GM is just at the beginning. It’s first use for stamped sheet metal magnesium is a rear deck lid inner panel. Weight savings: 2.2 pounds. And you need to be very lucky to get a magnesium-enhanced truck. GM will make about 50 vehicles, which will be sold to consumers, using the magnesium sheet process in the fourth quarter, but nobody is telling which models will be graced with the space-age parts.

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  • El scotto El scotto on Oct 24, 2012

    How much lighter is the Tacoma's composite bed over a steel bed? Ya got to start somewhere.

  • Tresmonos Tresmonos on Oct 25, 2012

    Ford, GM, Chrysler, Diamler and Honda have been utilizing die cast magnesium products from Meridian (supplier) for a while, now. There aren't many other Mg die cast players out there due to the stringent process and volatile raw material costs. That is a niche won by the leanest player and it's a relatively young concept. Intriguing article. Thank you for the brain food!

  • Jdt65724922 How can a Chrysler E-Class ride better than a Chrysler Fifth Avenue?
  • Lorenzo This series is epic, but I now fear you'll never get to the gigantic Falcon/Dart/Nova comparison.
  • Chris P Bacon Ford and GM have decided that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Odds are Chrysler/Cerberus/FCA/Stellantis is next to join in. If any of the companies like Electrify America had been even close to Tesla in reliability, we wouldn't be here.
  • Inside Looking Out China will decide which EV charging protocol will become world wide standard.
  • Chris P Bacon I see no reference to Sweden or South Carolina. I hate to assume, but is this thing built in China? I can't help but wonder if EVs would be more affordable to the masses if they weren't all stuffed full of horsepower most drivers will never use. How much could the price be reduced if it had, say, 200hp. Combined with the instant torque of an EV, that really is plenty of power for the daily commuter, which is what this vehicle really is.