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Wednesday, May 22 2019 13:52

GM Introduces New Carbon Fiber Truck Bed

General Motors has announced they will be beginning regular production of a carbon-fiber cargo bed in the 2019 GMC Sierra Denali and Sierra AT4. This material has not been regularly used in automotive production before and GM hopes to apply it to other vehicle models in the future.

While vehicles rely on a lot of materials and substances to be manufactured and run properly, like steel, aluminum, and oil, which is produced in more than four billion metric tons around the world every year, carbon fiber is a durable and lightweight material that is typically not used in vehicles. But with more and more regulations regarding fuel economy being introduced, GM and other automakers are having to find ways to make their larger vehicles, like trucks, more efficient.

Truck beds are typically steel and even though stainless steel can contain more than 60% post-industrial recycled material, it's still quite heavy. Switching to the CarbonPro cargo bed will shave off 62 pounds compared to traditional steel. Furthermore, when the ability to get rid of bed liners is considered, almost 100 pounds can be lost. And although it's much lighter, it still has the same impact resistance of steel.

Not only is the new cargo bed lighter, but it can be designed differently too -- the carbon fiber can be produced with molded floor cavities to help secure motorcycles safely and add extra room for cargo.

GM has been fighting the high cost of carbon fiber by using a combination of as many as 13 different materials to help improve the fuel economy of their vehicles, as well as driving performance and the overall quietness of the truck.

Experimenting with different methods, GM has found a new way to use bonding and adhesion methods to work with the expensive material -- and the automaker plans to continue working on refining the method.

According to Mark Voss, engineering group manager for GM's pickup boxes, GM had to do a lot more development and testing that is usually needed for a standard steel bed -- GM has been working on the carbon fiber box for about eight years.

"Steel boxes have been around for 100 years; you don't have to do that level of developmental work on a steel box. Once you do the production design, you validate it [by the] normal process," Voss explained.

And during tests of their new product, GM was able to show just how much better the new bed is than steel options and even Ford's choice of aluminum. GM put their work to the test, throwing sledgehammers and cinder blocks onto the carbon fiber bed, their own pickup trucks with steel beds, and the F-150. Unfortunately for Ford, some of the objects pierced right through the F-120 bed. GM engineers recorded the tests, showing that the carbon fiber beds were barely impacted by the heavy objects.

With there being about six million car accidents every year, automakers are always striving to make their vehicles more durable and safe. And the use of carbon fiber for new truck beds will increase durability, safety, and sustainability all at once.

Published in Rock Father Rides

I have a little confession. Despite all the awesome that comes out of Funko, there has never been a Pop! Vinyl figure that I took one look at and said, "I absolutely must have that!" And believe me, I own hundreds of them and there's many more that I'd like to own. But until today, there has never been a single figure that I've absolutely just thrown money at the screen for... until today. The undisputed Greatest Television Series of All-Time™* is finally getting the Pop! Vinyl treatment, and it's coming through the Pop! Rides line. The KNIGHT RIDER  Michael Knight with K.I.T.T. figure pays tribute to the excellent 1982-1986 NBC television series that brought audiences along for "a shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist." It also let kids like me know that "one man can make a difference," while inspiring much of the automotive and AI technology that exists in the world today. Available for pre-order via my friends at Entertainment Earth (an affiliate) for an August/September delivery, this is sure to become a sought-after addition to any Pop! Collection, and one desired by all with good taste.

Published in Rock Father Rides

There's something very American about the internal combustion engine. We equate it with many things, from going places and getting the job done to horsepower, octane and speed. During the summer months, there's adventure that goes with it as families embark on the Great American Roadtrip to see the country by car. As habits, tastes and technology have changed, gas-power has started to make way for electric, and while there's something to be said about the rumble under the hood, the case for electric is an increasingly appealing one, and the old limits of cost, range and lack of style are getting tossed aside. Adventure? Yes, you can have adventure in an electric car, and the Chevrolet Bolt EV is a prime example of just how far things have come.

Published in Rock Father Rides

Part of a series of features from The Rock Father™ celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Hot Wheels.

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Hot Wheels, Mattel is throwing things back to where it all began... to May of 1968 when a 1:64-scale Spectraflame blue Chevrolet Camaro first hit stores. Elliot Handler, who co-founded Mattel with his wife, Ruth, wanted to do something big. He wanted to create a toy car that was better than anything else out there at the time. It had to look cooler. It had to perform better. And, with a rocket scientist and the help of Harry Bentley Bradley, a designer plucked from General Motors, an icon was born. Famously stating "Those are some hot wheels!," the "fastest metal cars in the world" now had a name and 15 more would join that blue Camaro to become known as the original "Sweet 16." These rides have become highly sought-after, so for Hot Wheels official birthday (May 18), Mattel has unleashed the Hot Wheels 50th Originals Collection. The assortment includes replicas of five Hot Wheels from the Sweet 16, each presented with legacy graphics, detailed Spectraflame paint, Redline wheels, and just like the originals, they come with a collectible button packed alongside the car on reproduction blister packs that look just like they did back in 1968!

Published in Rock Father Rides

It's been a few years since we've seen a real-world Hot Wheels Chevy Camaro available at dealers, but now it's happening again - and better than ever before. Chevrolet and Hot Wheels have announced the 2018 Camaro Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary Edition, "celebrating 50 years of partnership, performance innovation and design." Announced ahead of SEMA 2017 in Las Vegas, the special package will be available for sale in the first quarter of 2018, while diecast versions of the vehicle will also be rolling out to retailers as well. Check out the specs below!

Published in Rock Father Rides

This post is sponsored by Life of Dad and Kelley Blue Book. All opinions are that of James Zahn, aka "The Rock Father"

Earlier this year, I had the unique opportunity to become one of the very first #KBBDads - an elite team assembled by Life of Dad to partner with Kelley Blue Book to showcase some of the best cars and trucks for families. I headed for KBB Headquarters in Irvine, California where I went hands-on with a fleet of vehicles, hitting the roads of Southern California after getting the details on how to evaluate like the team at Kelley Blue Book - direct from the KBB Editors. Kelley Blue Book is the trusted resource for new and used car buyers, available 24/7 to help people make the best possible buying decisions. Their yearly Best Buy Awards are a pinnacle of what they do, and as we prepare to flip the calendar for a new model year, I'm excited to share with you the 2017 Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Award Winners - a field of 12 vehicles that have secured positions ahead of their competitors.  Check out the full list along with a few "Rock Father Picks" below!

Published in Rock Father Rides
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