Traverse City, Mich. — General Motors Co. drew attention last year when it announced the option for a carbon fiber pickup box on the GMC Sierra.
The application of the high-cost, high-strength thermoplastic material on the truck bed was a first for the automotive industry, which typically recites a "cost is king" mantra.
Mike Siwajek, vice president of research and development at Continental Structural Plastics Inc., the composites supplier that molds and manufactures the CarbonPro box at its facility in Huntington, Ind., said that's not going to be the case for every vehicle or every model.
"GM has taken an aggressive stance on that, and said this is something that brings value," Siwajek said during an Aug. 6 session at the Center for Automotive Research's Management Briefing Seminars. "It brings lightweight. It brings durability. And it's a really, really fantastic project."
You have to determine where carbon fiber, which carries a price tag anywhere from $6-$40 per pound on average, provides the most value, he said.