Trucks & SUVs

GMC Tested its New Carbon Fiber Truck Bed and it Didn’t Prove Much

What if there was a truck bed that could withstand literally anything you threw at it? GMC seems to have created exactly that, for certain models of its Sierra 1500 trucks. The CarbonPro truck bed is made of a specially formulated carbon fiber designed to be extremely durable.

As Greg Fink at MotorTrend reports, GMC’s commercial showed the CarbonPro’s toughness during some ridiculously extreme testing. But how well does this truck bed withstand real-world abuse? And is it an option worth paying thousands of dollars more for?

The CarbonPro truck bed

View this post on Instagram

Play rough. #GMCSierra HD #AT4

A post shared by GMC (@gmc) on

Carbon fiber’s strength, lightness, and low processing costs make it an ideal material for race car and hypercar bodies. But since a truck bed undergoes much more everyday abuse than a race car body, GMC developed a carbon fiber variant that is twice as strong as one used for race cars.

A thermoplastic polymer, as compared to a thermosetting polymer, adds durability to the CarbonPro bed. Thermosetting materials can be baked and hardened easily but they also can be brittle. Yet a thermoplastic polymer can be heated and molded and then heated again without losing its integrity. It can handle a lot more stress than a thermosetting polymer without breaking.

An additional advantage of using more pliable thermoplastic for the CarbonPro bed is that it actually creates more room by one cubic foot in the bed itself. Its flexibility also makes it easy for GMC designers to add features to the bed such as indentations for tires of street or dirt bikes, extra tie-downs, and a pocket for a wooden divider to organize cargo.

This cutting-edge variant of carbon fiber is less vulnerable to scratching and denting. It resists corrosion and is about 25% lighter than a steel truck bed.

GMC’s CarbonPro commercial

In its TV advertisement, GMC uses a rather unusual tactic to demonstrate just how tough its CarbonPro truck bed is. In slow motion, a cannon hurls random projectiles at the truck bed. While James Brown sings “Super Bad” in the background, a four-by-four piece of wood, a brick, a watermelon are fired at the truck bed.

Other objects thrown at the bed included gravel, a TV, a garden gnome, and a mailbox. Finally, a large sofa is heaved at the CarbonPro bed and it simply bounces off. A pile of smashed items starts to accumulate on the floor below the bed.

At the end of the commercial, a voiceover says that if the CarbonPro bed “can handle a hurricane, it can handle you.” Here, GMC is referring to the hurricane simulation testing it subjected the CarbonPro. The automaker recorded how its truck bed performed when projectiles are lobbed at it at hurricane speeds.

Before producing the commercial, GMC also tested the beds of its rivals. MotorTrend speculates that the truck beds of the Ram 1500 and the Ford F-150 underwent the same testing. While we don’t know for sure whether the beds of the Sierra’s competition performed as well as the CarbonPro, we would guess that they didn’t.

Is it worth paying more for this truck bed?

The CarbonPro certainly seems sturdy enough, even if we take the commercial with a grain of salt. In the real world, it should be able to take on a load of crushed stone, a bunch of bricks, or any sharp-edged cargo that you might want to heave into it. But it’s still a new product in its first year of consumer use. Only time will tell how well this truck bed will work for everyday utility among real-life owners.

Costly repairs are another concern that buyers may have about the CarbonPro. After watching the repair headaches Ford had with the F-150’s aluminum bed, GMC trained technicians who also work on the Corvette’s carbon fiber body to repair the CarbonPro truck bed. And the panels that support the truck bed are designed to be removed and replaced easily to simplify repair the CarbonPro.

At first glance, a CarbonPro truck bed may sound like a practical option if you’re in the market for a Sierra. But there is one big downside, and it could be a dealbreaker for many buyers. The CarbonPro Edition package is available only on the Sierra 1500 Crew Cab AT4 and the Denali version with the short box.

These models are top trim levels, costing $61,905 and $71,450 respectively. This package equips both models with a 6.2-liter V8 and tons of goodies such as a sunroof, an audio system built into the tailgate, and several advanced safety features.

Buyers who choose either of these models will still shell out nearly twice as much or more than the $31,195 base Sierra 1500. If you’re a buyer who has your sights set on a high-end Sierra, the AT4 and the Denali offer a great deal of luxury and toughness for the money. You’ll also have one of the most durable truck beds on the market.

But for everyone else, it might be better to wait and see if carbon fiber truck beds become cheaper and whether they actually work in the real world.