When GMC unveiled its new half-ton Sierra pickup truck a year ago, the automaker spoke at great length about its new carbon fiber pickup bed that would be available as an option. It’s taken a bit of time, but that option is headed to GMC dealerships this summer as the CarbonPro Edition. It will be offered in limited quantities for Sierra Denali 1500 and AT4 1500 models.
"CarbonPro is made of the same raw material found in seven-figure supercars and even aerospace applications," said Duncan Aldred, vice president at Global GMC. "Coupled with offering the world’s first six-function MultiPro tailgate, the 2019 Sierra packs a one-two hauling punch for whatever the situation demands."
As you would expect, the key benefit to the CarbonPro Edition is less weight. GMC says the composite bed cuts 60 pounds from a similarly equipped Sierra wearing a steel bed. Additionally, the automaker says more weight can be saved by eliminating the need for a drop-in or spray-on bed liner, because the carbon fiber bed already offers protection and grip usually afforded by those extras. As such, GMC says the CarbonPro bed offers best-in-class cargo volume, not to mention best-in-class dent, scratch, and corrosion protection.
Gallery: 2019 GMC Sierra CarbonPro Edition
Some critics have questioned whether the carbon fiber bed can hold up to the rigors of truck life. Though undeniably strong, the material tends to shatter when pushed past its limits whereas steel or aluminum bend before breaking. To address those concerns, GMC says the bed was "rigorously developed" and strength-tested in a variety of oddly specific ways. Cinder blocks were repeatedly dropped into the bed, along with 450-pound steel drums and 1800-pound loads of gravel. GMC doesn’t specify whether those tests resulted in any significant damage, but a snowmobile test involving a studded track reportedly caused only minor scratching on the surface.
The big question that is still unanswered is how much the carbon fiber bed will cost. As GMC’s Aldred pointed out above, carbon fiber is often associated with exotic cars costing six- and seven-figure sums. That answer will come soon enough, as production for the CarbonPro Editon begins in early June.
GMC CarbonPro TM Delivers Innovation and Durability Where It Counts
DETROIT — Starting production in early June, GMC Sierra CarbonPro TM Editions will begin appearing at select dealerships this summer, available on the Sierra Denali 1500 and the Sierra AT4 1500. The purpose-built CarbonPro bed is the first application of its kind for carbon fiber composite and delivers best-in-class dent, scratch and corrosion resistance.
“CarbonPro is made of the same raw material found in seven-figure super cars and even aerospace applications,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president, Global GMC. “Coupled with offering the world’s first six-function MultiPro tailgate, the 2019 Sierra packs a one-two hauling punch for whatever the situation demands.”
The two back end segment firsts are just some of the innovative features to debut on the 2019 GMC Sierra. An available ProGrade Trailering System with in-vehicle trailering app offers a connected suite of trailering technology to bring more confidence to towing while an available Rear Camera Mirror1 uses a camera mirror display that provides a wide, unobstructed view to help avoid common visual obstructions like occupants or cargo. Also available is a Multicolor 15-inch Diagonal Head-Up Display.
Key benefits of the CarbonPro bed include:
- Strength, durability and scratch resistance: The carbon fiber composite material provides the most scratch, dent and corrosion-resistant pickup bed in the industry.
- Corrosion-resistance: Carbon fiber composite naturally resists corrosion, helping the bed withstand weathering and maintain a premium appearance over the life of the truck.
- Reduced weight: The CarbonPro bed weighs 25 percent less than a traditional steel bed, removing roughly 60 pounds of vehicle mass. Its grained surface also negates the need for bed liners, potentially saving further vehicle mass.
- More volume: The CarbonPro bed design enables best-in-class cargo volume, increasing the already class-leading volume of the Sierra’s roll-formed steel bed by 1 cubic foot.
- More functionality: The CarbonPro bed features indentations specifically designed for tires of dirt and street bikes. Two additional tie-down locations are installed at the front of the bed.
Rigorous validation testing
The CarbonPro bed was rigorously developed to help ensure long-term pickup bed durability and functionality.
Examples of the validation testing include:
- Drop tests: Large and heavy loads were repeatedly dropped on the CarbonPro bed to replicate extreme use scenarios. Testing included dropping cinder blocks, 1800-pound loads of gravel and 450-pound water-filled steel drums from varying heights.
- Corrosion test: CarbonPro was subjected to corrosion testing but carbon fiber composite is naturally resistant to corrosion.
- Snowmobile test: A snowmobile with metal studs on the track was driven into the bed and accelerated at full throttle with a 250-pound rider on board with only minimal scratching evident on the bed.
- Extreme temperature testing: Validation work was performed in Yuma, Arizona, and Kapuskasing, Ontario, to help ensure CarbonPro holds up in unforgiving environments.
- Generator test: High heat exposure involved aiming the exhaust from a portable generator directly at the corner of the bed to ensure heat and vibration would not degrade the bed.
Form meets function
The CarbonPro bed offers best-in-class cargo volume thanks to its sidewalls being pushed out farther, made possible by the formability of carbon fiber composite that allows molding deep and complex shapes with variable thicknesses. Like the steel bed, the CarbonPro bed provides the ability to slide a 2-inch by 6-inch wooden divider into pockets in the bed wall for cargo organization and separation.
Purposefully grained corrugation optimizes traction and cleanup, with more aggressive graining at the tops of the corrugation to help increase traction in wet weather and a smoother grain at the bottoms of the corrugation for easy dirt and debris removal.
The carbon fiber composite bed does not need to be painted, since the composite material creates a premium surface and is UV stable.
“The bed is the working end of a truck; it’s what brings buyers to the segment,” said Tim Herrick, executive chief engineer, Full-Size Trucks, General Motors, “Loaded with motorcycles, snowmobiles or dirt bikes, CarbonPro in the 2019 GMC Sierra is sure to impress with its strength, space and innovation.”
- Spray-in bedliner not needed: Because carbon fiber composite is exceptionally durable, a spray-in bedliner is not necessary to help prevent damage and therefore will not be packaged on models with the CarbonPro The composite material is rugged yet nonabrasive.
- Rear wheelhouse liners not needed: Because of CarbonPro’s increased dent resistance versus aluminum or steel, no wheelhouse liner is installed from the factory.
- Payload increase: Models equipped with the CarbonPro bed offer an increase in payload over a steel bed due to the mass savings of carbon fiber composite. Payload for these models is at least 59 pounds higher, depending on the configurations and equipment.
Sierra CarbonPro Edition makes a limited debut for the 2019 model year and is available for both the Sierra Denali 1500 and the Sierra AT4 1500. CarbonPro will be available in greater quantity on both trims for the 2020 model year.