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General Motors reportedly ready to build aluminum pickups

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A 2014 Chevrolet Silverado being shipped from GM's Fort Wayne, Indiana factory. (Chevrolet)

General Motors looks like it’s ready to lighten up and join Ford on the aluminum bandwagon, in pickup truck form.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the automaker has locked in contracts with aluminum suppliers Alcoa and Novelis to supply the next generation of Chevrolet and GMC trucks, due in 2018.

Ford is set to launch its aluminum-bodied F-150 later this year, claiming a weight reduction of up to 700 pounds compared its current, steel-bodied trucks.

The move is aimed primarily at improving fuel economy in the face of increasing EPA-mandated mileage requirements, but should also benefit the vehicles’ towing and payload capabilities.

Sources familiar with the matter tell the newspaper that General Motors considered making the switch back in 2008, but had to put it off due to the financial issues facing the company at that time.

The new Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra are marginally lighter than the trucks they replace largely due to their increased use of high-strength steel, but the less expensive material typically can’t deliver the kind of dramatic weight savings that aluminum can.

GM is hoping to employ more advanced welding techniques than Ford uses to reduce the complexity and cost of producing aluminum bodies, while making them even lighter and stronger than those of the new F-150, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In a response to the report, a GM spokesperson told Reuters that the company would not talk about technical details of future products at this point.