As the automobile industry is looking to meet tougher fuel economy targets while improving the performance and safety, it’s moving to more advanced materials like carbon fiber to watch the weight.
Carbon Revolution, an Australian company, is producing carbon fiber wheels that are lighter than even the aluminum and magnesium rims found on today’s fanciest cars. Although carbon fiber wheels have existed for motorsport and motorcycle applications, Carbon Revolution claims to have manufactured the world’s first ‘one-piece’ carbon fiber wheels. Weight specs of these wheels are nothing short of breathtaking; their 19-inch wheel ‘CR9’ weighs only 15.2 pounds (6.89kg). This feather-light wheel can be lifted easily with just a few fingers.
The publicly available model ‘CR9’ is the result of seven years of development. With the true one-piece carbon fiber construction, they borrow techniques from the aircraft industry. Not only this, each of the wheels undergoes rigorous testing before a final surface finish. These wheels are already available in very limited numbers for the Porsche 911.
At about $15,000 a set, CR9 has an equally breathtaking price as its weight specs. But the company points out that this is the equivalent of gain in fuel efficiency, less weight, better handling, additional horsepower and less road noise. Life expectancy of these wheels is comparable to that of aluminum wheels. The wheel company hopes the prices will drop once the company gets up to speed.
At present, the price is prohibitive so do not expect to see them everywhere anytime soon. But looking at the future, these premium wheels definitely have potential well beyond performance cars.