February 19, 2014 / 3:28 AM / 5 years ago

GM readying aluminum-body trucks by late 2018: WSJ

(Reuters) - General Motors Co (GM.N) is working towards a largely aluminum-bodied pickup truck by late 2018, under pressure from federal fuel efficiency standards, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

GM recently locked-in supply contracts with Alcoa Inc (AA.N) and Novelis Inc NVLX.UL and both suppliers are now working to increase their aluminum sheet production to supply the next-generation GM pickup, according to the Journal.

Aluminum sheet for automotive bodies is in such high demand that companies need to order it years in advance, the newspaper said. (link.reuters.com/ruc96v)

The No. 1 U.S. auto maker has been working to put its full-size pickup trucks on a severe diet to meet future U.S. fuel economy standards and stay competitive with rival Ford Motor Co (F.N).

Reuters reported last July that GM will start using more lightweight materials such as aluminum and composites in place of conventional steel.

Ford has already made the switch. Its popular pickup truck F-150’s latest upgrade’s body is 95 percent made of a military grade aluminum alloy used in Humvees and weighs up to 700 pounds lesser than the current truck.

GM, Alcoa and Novelis could not immediately be reached for comment by Reuters outside of regular U.S. business hours.

Reporting by Varun Aggarwal in Bangalore; Editing by Supriya Kurane

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