In a new video, Chevrolet aims to show the superiority of its roll-formed, high-strength steel bed in the Silverado against the Ford F-150’s stamped aluminum. As an official clip from an automaker, the challenge’s winner is fairly obvious. We wonder if the test is really representative of how drivers use their pickups’ bed, though.
In the first challenge, Chevy dumps 825 pounds of landscaping blocks into both trucks. The Silverado’s bed has some dents afterward, but the rocks actually puncture the Ford’s metal. The company then drops a toolbox into them, and there are similar results.
This video seems to illustrate that a steel bed is superior for heavy-duty use, but we wonder how many truck owners really subject their vehicle to this much punishment. Also, many buyers would use some sort of bed liner to protect the metal, which would potentially mitigate the differences between the materials.
Chevy's marketing team needs to be somewhat careful about making customers believe aluminum is a weak material in a truck. Rumors suggest the company’s next generation of pickups would reportedly switch to aluminum bodies like the current F-150. These new models could launch as soon as fall 2018, which only gives the automaker a couple more years to proclaim steel as the better choice.
CHEVROLET DEMONSTRATES COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE OF SILVERADO’S ROLL-FORMED, HIGH-STRENGTH STEEL BED
DETROIT — Lab tests and field demonstrations show Silverado’s roll-formed, high-strength steel bed outperforms the competitor’s stamped aluminum bed, as shown in new videos released by Chevrolet.
The campaign is a dramatic example of Chevrolet engineers’ work to select the right material, enabled by the right manufacturing processes, for the right application.
According to Sandor Piszar, Chevrolet truck marketing director, it also demonstrates why Silverado is a smart choice for customers shopping for a truck they can use as a truck:
“We engineer and build our trucks with customers’ expectations in mind. For example, Silverado features a roll-formed, high-strength steel bed because truck customers demand the ability to haul their toys, tools and other cargo. These videos demonstrate the real-world benefits of the Silverado’s bed, in both extreme and everyday scenarios.”
To demonstrate the advantages of Silverado’s construction, Chevrolet conducted three comparisons to the stamped aluminum bed of the 2016 Ford F-150. Demonstrations were done without bedliners, evaluating the susceptibility of each bed to punctures.
In scientific testing using a wedge-shaped striker weighing 17 pounds (7.7 kilograms), the Silverado sample remained intact up to 90 joules of impact energy. By comparison, the aluminum bed floor exhibited hairline cracks at just 30 joules, and was completely punctured at 40 joules.
As an extreme example of the Silverado’s strength, 55 landscaping blocks weighing a total of approximately 825 pounds (347 kilograms) were dropped into the beds of both trucks from 5 feet above the bed floor. In 12 out of 12 comparisons shot for video, the Silverado exhibited only scratches and dents that did not affect the utility of the bed. The aluminum Ford F-150’s aluminum bed sustained punctures in every drop, with an average of 4.3 punctures per drop that could reduce the utility of the bed.
To replicate the kind of accident that can happen at any jobsite, the videos also show a steel, handheld toolbox pushed off the side rail of each truck. For the Silverado, the toolbox only dented the roll-formed high-strength steel bed in 12 out of 14 demonstrations. In the remaining two demonstrations, the toolbox left a pinhole puncture on the bed floor. For the F-150, the toolbox only dented the aluminum bed once out of the 14 demonstrations. In the remaining 13 demonstrations, the toolbox left a sizable puncture through the stamped aluminum bed floor.
The strength of the Silverado bed stems the material used and how it is formed. The high-strength steel alloy is so strong, the required geometry of the bed floor cannot be formed using traditional stamping. Instead, Chevrolet uses a roll-forming process that enhances material strength by creating less material fatigue than stamping.
“Obviously, any material can be pushed to the breaking point if you subject it to enough impact energy,” Piszar concluded. “If a customer does manage to puncture the high-strength steel bed of the Silverado, they have the added peace of mind knowing steel tends to be easier to repair than aluminum — potentially saving money and minimizing time without their truck.”
You can join the conversation using #SilveradoStrong.
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world's largest car brands, doing business in more than 115 countries and selling around 4.0 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature engaging performance, design that makes the heart beat, passive and active safety features and easy-to-use technology, all at a value. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.