By on January 20, 2020

With General Motors razzing Ford back in 2015 for optioning an aluminum truck bed to save weight, thus improving fuel economy, it couldn’t pull off a similar move without a sea of mouths wailing warnings of hypocrisy. GM has been playing catch-up with the Blue Oval’s full-size pickup since forever, always framing the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado as the more robust choice. The company even launched an advertising campaign to prove its steel truck bed was the tougher option.

When the General’s full-sized trucks underwent a weight-loss program of their own, it was decided anything that opened or closed should be aluminum while the bed absolutely had to stay high-strength steel. Otherwise, it would be guilty of the same mistakes it accused Ford of. Despite throwing shade at Ford’s claimed lack of sturdiness for over a decade, the aluminum-sucks angle has been reeled back immensely over the last couple of years. GM even attempted to wipe all evidence of a comparative rock-drop test from the internet, possibly because it’s finally decided to embrace aluminum itself.

However, there’s already an alternative to the high-strength steel GM currently offers — the CarbonPro bed available on the GMC Sierra Denali and AT4 — and the manufacturer has prepared another stunt show to test its mettle. 

The advertisement strategy is a familiar one: General Motors takes the product in question to a testing facility, someone explains what’s going on, we get close-up footage of it outperforming the competition, and a staff member declares a winner (spoiler: it’s never not GM).

This time around the gang took a CarbonPro bed to a facility where it could be subjected to category 1 hurricane winds and debris flying at similar speeds. It started with bricks and boards, before making way for items that just look cool exploding in slow motion. As you might expect, the composite bed outperformed the anonymous competitor’s unit (Ford wasn’t explicitly named) by ending the test not looking like it had been assaulted with a pickaxe.

 

Even though a couple of spray cans of bed liner would probably have nullified these results, it makes us wonder how great CarbonPro truly is. Ford dealers encountered some headaches in patching up its aluminum bed shortly after launch, figuring things out after some trial and error. But these don’t appear to be issues the composite rig will have to face at all.

For starters, CarbonPro is bolted onto the outer panels — allowing it to be taken off rather easily. It also don’t appear to be made of a material that’s prone to denting. In fact, GM is calling it the most corrosion, dent and scratch-resistant truck bed currently in production.

Cost could become an issue, however. The cheapest way to access one of the new composite beds today it to purchase a $66,700 Sierra AT4 CarbonPro Edition. While General Motors has plans to broaden its availability, it has also made it pretty clear it’s not necessarily intended for everyone. “CarbonPro is made of the same raw material found in seven-figure supercars and even aerospace applications,” Duncan Aldred, vice president at Global GMC, explained last spring. That’s ground-up carbon fiber in a nylon plastic resin, for those wondering.

It seems genuinely capable in terms of taking abuse, though one wonders if the overall gains are worth it. The bed itself is 25 percent lighter than the standard steel unit GMC normally uses, offering an additional cubic foot of cargo room and some more payload capacity. But if you have to select the fanciest trucks to have it, it’s unlikely to be a game changer for the brand. Composite beds are nothing new and CarbonPro needs to be feasible as a mainstream product. Assuming it holds up to the high standards issued by the manufacturer and production costs stabilize, perhaps someday it will be.

[Image: General Motors]

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31 Comments on “Is CarbonPro Everything GMC Claims?...”


  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    If it gets people to step up to a higher trim level that is a good thing for the bottom line and that is what CarbonPro needs to be, a boost to profit.

  • avatar
    Right_Click_Refresh

    Oh great. I can’t wait to get the dorky guy bagging on Ford while puking the virtues to NOT actors. I’ll look for it when I dont watch the commercials for the Super Bowl.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    That is pretty nice, but a lot of money to avoid a dent or scratch in a pickup bed. I get far too many on the outside to worry about the ones on the inside.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      This. I can’t see the point of my bed surviving construction material in a tornado when the body panels are so thin they won’t survive acorns. It feels like I find a new ding in my Ford every time I park in the sun.

    • 0 avatar
      Imagefont

      I put a $90 fitted rubber mat in the bed of my pickup (F250 with an 8 foot bed) to protect the bed and mostly to keep things from sliding around so much. Take it out, wash it, throw it back in. Done. Why do we need ultra high tech and expensive bed materials for this very minor problem?

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      I don’t know of any fleets in my area that care about dented beds. Everyone I know that uses a truck as a truck will spray in a liner or lay a rubber mat down or use the tried and true sheet of plywood. Some guys I know go with an aftermarket aluminum checker-plate liner. That is then swapped from truck to truck.
      The people that tend to worry about their truck bed are the ones that have zero need for a pickup.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    Yeah I think I’ll stick with a $500 bed liner thanks

  • avatar
    Hummer

    This is like the 3rd time GM has tried a composite bed, I wish they would try Quadra steer again, way more talk worthy.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    A truck would have to be standing up on its front bumper before it can take on hurricane lumber and flat screens directly like that.

    But a plastic bedliner could also save the bed floor in hurricanes I guess.

  • avatar
    FerrariLaFerrariFace

    “The cheapest way to access one of the new composite beds today it to purchase a $66,700 Sierra AT4 CarbonPro Edition”

    Which makes it kind of ironic that the toughest bed material they offer is only available on the trucks least likely to see any work that might test that strength.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    Pro-Tec Composite Box
    GM lacked the tenacity and patience to give this product enough time in market.

  • avatar
    Right_Click_Refresh

    Did GM really KNOCK it out of the park this time? GM has a real HOMERUN on its hands? Perhaps they’ll sell everyone they make..or maybe theyll make every one they sell…all I know is GM with the GAMECHANGER!

  • avatar
    No Nickname Required

    I’m glad to know the inside of the bed could withstand whatever a hurricane throws at it. Never mind what the rest of the truck looks like. Of course, considering the current awful styling, chances are a hurricane would actually give it a facelift.

  • avatar
    cprescott

    Since GM fabricated and lied about its tears in their testing of Ford’s box and hid the tears in their steel bed, I can only surmise this is another fake news gimmick. I wonder why they didn’t put this in a real bed instead of allowing it to dissipate energy while hanging?

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      The Chinese have never had trouble lying and stealing to get their technology, and seeing this bed material was designed by a Chinese company I expect no less here.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      cprescott – you nailed it. By hanging the bed and allowing for the entire assembly to move a bit dramatically reduces the deceleration force of the objects striking the bed. Much like a SAFER barrier helps with race car crashes. So, a loaded test.

      Hummer – I agree 100%. Bring back Quadrasteer – only this time make it available as a stand-alone option at a reasonable price. Anybody who has backed up a truck with Quadrasteer knows how good it was…

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        GM has a history of coming up with innovative things (like Quadrasteer) but then not being able to make profit on it unless it was bundled with a bunch of other options that many working people don’t necessarily want.

        • 0 avatar
          ToolGuy

          I’m not sure GM wants the innovative things to succeed.

          Examples:
          – Saab (“aerospace” plus safety tech – purchased, watered-down, then shut down)
          – EV1 (including space-frame technology)
          – NiMH batteries (see link)
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patent_encumbrance_of_large_automotive_NiMH_batteries
          – Volt
          – Quadrasteer

          If you have a brilliant innovation you would like GM to introduce on its mainstream vehicles, sell your idea to Ford – GM may adopt it several years after Ford does.

          If you want GM to toy with your idea before quietly shelving it, deal directly with GM.

          https://www.gmventures.com/active-portfolio.html

          Note the “Exits” tab – also note the “Undisclosed Investments” count.

          Oh look:
          “GM is scaling back its Maven car-sharing company and will stop service in nearly half of the 17 North American cities in which it operates.”

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          “GM has a history of coming up with innovative things”…BUT.
          I was really excited about GM’s new inline 6 diesel but for the most part it is paired up with high end trim packages that I don’t want. I was hoping for the I-6 paired with the TrailBoss package. That would be a match made in heaven but typical GM…NOPE. It ain’t happenin’.

  • avatar

    GM should instead spend more money on improving the exterior and interior design of their trucks, which have been getting a lot of criticism lately. They seem to be in denial that Chrysler is now eating their lunch.

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