Carbon fiber wheels have long been known for their ability to reduce vehicle weight, resulting in improved fuel/energy efficiency and performance that will make both performance enthusiasts and conservationists happy. Weight reduction (alongside drag coefficient reduction) is the holy grail of performance enhancements because it improves efficiency as well. A combination of high performance and high efficiency is very difficult to achieve (unless the car is electric).
Now, the Ford Shelby GT350R Mustang has gotten its first mass-produced carbon fiber wheels, thanks to a partnership with Carbon Revolution. Carbon Revolution claims that their wheels are 40% – 50% lighter than aluminium ones, weighing in at 18 pounds each. Car wheels can easily weigh 20-40 pounds each, making them a considerable contributor to a vehicles’ weight. The lightweight carbon fiber wheels also help by reducing rotational inertia (inertia is an object’s resistance to a change in velocity, such as acceleration).
Green Car Congress commented:
‘Created specifically for motorsport and aerospace applications where extreme temperature conditions are encountered, Carbon Revolution’s thermal barrier coating system uses a multistage, multimaterial coating formulation that provides an excellent thermal barrier.
Using a plasma arc gun to liquefy a ceramic material, the wheels are coated at critical points around the inner wheel ‘barrel’ and on the back of the spokes. The result is a thin, nearly diamond-hard coating that reliably shields the resin from heat—reducing maximum wheel temperatures and allowing continuous track use by even the most aggressive drivers.’ The coating had to be developed to meet Ford’s durability requirements.’
Carbon fiber wheels aren’t only useful to sports cars like the Ford Shelby GT350R! Weight reductions provide performance improvements to any type of vehicle. Carbon fiber technologies have been gradually making their way into the mainstream. If the cost of these composite material technologies come down enough in the near future, you may see some very lightweight cars in your lifetime!