Engineering, Advanced Materials Slim Down 2015 Chevy Colorado

Lightweight high-strength steels play a key role in mass reduction

2015 Chevy Colorado

2015 Chevy Colorado

Chevy Colorado AHSS Steel Structure Grades

AHSS Steel Structure Grades

Proving there is more than one way shed pounds, the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado uses engineering techniques and lightweight materials to create true pickup capability in a mass-efficient midsize package.

The 2015 Colorado 4×4 crew cab, expected to be the most popular version of the new trucks, weighs 880 to 1,400 lbs. less than a full-size truck.

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. The outcome is a truck designed to be the most fuel-efficient in its segment.

The Colorado began arriving in showrooms in the fourth quarter 2014, at the same time as the new Ford F-150, setting up a sharp contrast between two strategies for reducing the weight of pickups.  Motor Trend awarded the Colorado HD “2015 Motor Trend Truck of the Year,” bumping the contender F-150.

“When it comes to building lighter pickups, there is more than one answer,” said Jeff Luke, Chevy executive chief engineer. “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.”

Efficient size that’s right for many customers

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, making it an easier fit in many garages.  Colorado’s overall width of 74.3 inches is five inches narrower than Silverado and two inches wider than the Equinox, providing easier maneuverability around town with a surprisingly spacious interior.  This slightly smaller package comes with real muscle, though. Based on GM’s latest testing, Colorado is expected to lead the midsize segment with up to 6,700 pounds of available towing capability.

Chevy Colorado Segment Mass Comparison

Chevy Colorado Vehicle Segment Mass Comparison

Intelligent use of lightweight materials

In creating Colorado, GM engineers chose materials that would make the most of the strength, safety and refinement of the truck, while balancing dependability and cost of repairs and total ownership. 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.  Key areas of the body structure also benefit from high-strength steels, reducing mass and enhancing strength and safety. Overall, about 71 percent of the body structure is comprised of high-strength steels.

Chevy Colorado Cab Structure

Colorado Cab structure is over 72% high strength or advanced high-strength steels

Chevy Colorado body structure

Colorado body structure on display at the Steel Market Development Institute’s NAIAS suite

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

Chevy Colorado rocker

Chevy Colorado rocker structure

Advanced High-Strength Steels were used for the Rocker Inner and Outer, Internal L reinforcements and Section stabilizing bulkheads.
The B-Pillar structure used an AHSS tailor-rolled blank Center Pillar Outer as well as AHSS Center Pillar Inner, Tension Panel and Local Hinge Reinforcements.

Chevy Colorado B-Pillar structure

B-Pillar structure

Another weight-saving feature, electric power steering, also helps improve steering assist for easier maneuverability in tight situations.  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. Forged steel crankshafts were used.

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

Sources:  Chevrolet media releases; Steel Market Development Institute

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