Ford’s New Composite Wheels
Ford’s New Wheels
Ford motors is giving the old saying “you can’t reinvent the wheel” a run for its money with a seriously fierce set of carbon composite wheels on next year’s models. The next big thing in muscle cars? Based on the look, we definitely hope so.
The wheels are made by Australian manufacturer Carbon Revolution. Originally founded by Deakin engineering research students, Carbon Revolution is well known for its development and production of single piece carbon fiber wheels. An outfit that originally started in an old sheep shearing shed (say that five times fast) Carbon Revolution has grown to a multi-million dollar juggernaut, and will be supplying its wheels on the new Ford GT and Shelby GT350R.
New Wheels: Better Performance
The composite materials will shave a significant weight off the car, more than 30kg compared to materials previously used in wheels. This drive for lighter and stronger is a familiar tune, with auto manufacturers eager to meet new fuel and emission standards in the United States and Europe.
Ford started torture testing these composite wheels over two years ago, after hearing about the Carbon Revolution’s product. Tests included driving over potholes at 100km/h, just to be sure the carbon fiber wouldn’t fail. At those speeds, a shattered wheel would prove catastrophic to the vehicle (not to mention the driver inside.)
The wheels also need to stand up to heat. A lot of heat. The Shelby GT350R’s breaks can create rotor temperatures in excess of 1,650 degrees Fahrenheit (900 degrees Celsius!) Luckily, Carbon Revolution has an answer. They used a plasma arc gun to liquefy a ceramic material, using the resulting mixture to coat critical points around the inner wheel and on the back of the spokes, resulting coat is “nearly diamond-hard” and allows for continuous track use.
After the wheel’s assembly, they’ll go through 61 individual safety and manufacturing checks, with more than 246,000 data points logged before they’re ready to be released.
Carbon Revolution is expected to ramp up production soon, with 50,000 wheels expected to be made within two years. There has been no official word on the cost of these wheels, though Ford and Carbon Revolution have said that they will be “several times” more expensive, compared to regular wheels.
So, excited to get your hands on the new, composite wheel set? Let us know your opinions in the comments below. Be sure to check out our Facebook and reach out to us on Twitter @FibreGlast for more news in the world of composites.