According to sources close to Automotive News, the next Chevrolet Silverado will make use of carbon-fibre-reinforced thermoplastic in its bed. The material has reportedly been developed as part of a collaboration with Japanese materials company Teijin, initially announced in 2011.
Although it's slowly working its way into more cars, carbon-fibre is generally the preserve of high-end supercars and low-volume specials. The lightweight weave is immensely strong, but it's also expensive to manufacture in any great volume, due to a time-heavy production process.
Initially, The Wall Street Journal says the lightweight bed will likely debut on high-end variants of the Silverado, but the development of more cost-effective production processes could see the technology filter down the range.
Should the reports be accurate, it wouldn't be the first time a manufacturer has turned to alternative materials in their full-size trucks. Chevrolet famously commissioned a set of attack ads when the latest Ford F-150 made the switch to an aluminium bed, arguing the change made the truck less-qualified to handle a life of hard work.
It will be interesting to see if Ford returns fire, should the next Silverado debut with the option a carbon-fibre-reinforced thermoplastic bed.