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GM uses lightweight, advanced materials to reduce weight on 2015 Colorado pickup

Mass comparison, 4x4 crew cabs. Click to enlarge.

The 2015 Chevrolet Colorado uses engineering techniques and lightweight materials to create fuel-efficient pickup capability in a mass-efficient mid-size package. The 2015 Colorado 4x4 crew cab, which GM expects to be the most popular version of the new trucks, weighs 880 to 1,400 lbs (363 to 635 kg) less than a full-size truck. Chevrolet expects EPA fuel economy estimates for Colorado this summer.

This weight saving is a result of the slightly smaller overall dimensions of the Colorado, along with extensive use of lightweight materials, including high-strength steels and aluminum.

The Colorado will begin arriving in showrooms this fall at the same time as the new Ford F-150 (earlier post), setting up a contrast between two strategies for reducing the weight of pickups. Aluminum alloys are used throughout the F-150 body for the first time, improving dent and ding resistance and also saving weight. Overall, up to 700 pounds (318 kg) of weight have been saved.

When it comes to building lighter pickups, there is more than one answer. Building on our experience with the new Silverado, we engineered the Colorado to be highly mass-efficient, while still providing the performance, capability, dependability and features that midsize truck customers are asking for.

—Jeff Luke, executive chief engineer

In overall size, Colorado fits neatly below the Silverado 1500 in the Chevrolet lineup. The short-bed crew cab is 212.76 inches long, 17 inches shorter than a comparable Silverado 1500. Colorado’s overall width of 74.3 inches is five inches narrower than Silverado and two inches wider than the Equinox.

However, GM expects this slightly smaller package to lead the mid-size segment with up to 6,700 pounds (3,039 kg) of available towing capability.

Like Silverado, Colorado extensively uses lightweight, high-strength steels. Fully boxed frames formed primarily from high-strength steel reduce weight and increase stiffness for a quieter ride and better handling.

Steel structure of the 2015 Colorado. Click to enlarge.

Key areas of the body structure also benefit from high-strength steels, reducing mass and enhancing strength and safety. Overall, about 71% of the body structure uses high-strength steels.

The pickup box consists of roll-formed steel, which is lighter and stronger than traditional stamped steel.

Major aluminum components include the hood, front steering knuckles, and cylinder heads and engine blocks for both the 2.5L four cylinder and 3.6L V-6. Reflecting the attention to weight savings found throughout the Colorado, the aluminum heads for the V-6 feature integral exhaust manifolds, which save about 13 pounds (5.9 kg) over traditional cast-iron manifolds.

The front of Colorado features a composite grille opening reinforcement with active shutters that seals the front of the truck, reducing aerodynamic drag and improving cooling performance. Another weight-saving feature, electric power steering, also helps improve steering assist for easier maneuverability in tight situations.

Because of its mass-efficient design, Colorado engineers skipped the cost and complexity of turbocharging Colorado’s four-cylinder and V-6 engines.

In addition to the lightweight aluminum cylinder heads and blocks, both engines feature direct fuel injection and continuously variable valve timing for better performance and more-efficient operation. Based on current GM testing, the standard 2.5L four is estimated at 193 hp (144 kW), while the available V-6 is estimated at 302 hp (225 kW).

Both the Colorado and its engines have been tested and validated to the same tough standards as the full-size Silverado.



Reducing weight and making more aerodynamic could make a better candidate for electrification?


They are trying to compete with the aluminium bodied Ford F150 - also by lightweighting.

I wouldn't hold my breath for an electric version to either exist or sell well, but if they get the conventional one down by 300 Kg and can use a smaller engine, a fair bit of fuel will be saved.

A diesel engine would be a good fit, if they could be bothered - the 2.5L Duramax for instance. Then you would have a really economical truck.



From "Colorado will also offer the segment’s only diesel engine in its second year – a proven Duramax 2.8L I-4 turbodiesel already offered in global markets."

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