It’s no secret that carbon fiber is one of the latest breakthrough materials that provides a high-strength, low-weight solution to nearly any problem. Today it is used in making body panels, support bracing, and even entire monocoque chassis. But now, companies are developing complete one-piece carbon-fiber wheels. Jay Leno takes a look at Carbon Revolution, a company that is on the brink of releasing its carbon-fiber wheels to the marketplace, including to an undisclosed OEM automaker. Yep, soon we’ll see a mainstream automaker release a vehicle rolling on a set of carbon-fiber wheels.
Brett Gass, Executive Director for Carbon Revolution stopped by Jay’s garage to show off the new wheels. Weighing in at roughly 15 pounds, the carbon-fiber wheels weigh an average of five pounds less than a set of lightweight aluminum wheels normally found of today’s sports cars. Gass also elaborates on how his wheel is certified by the German government to pass all safety and strength requirements.
To test the wheels, Jay, Gass, and a group of friends head out to Willow Springs Raceway in a 2008 Porsche 911 GT3 RS . Besides a sideways slip into the dirt by Jay, the carbon fiber-shod Porsche holds the road. The group of guys talk about how standard, lightweight aluminum wheels flex, while the carbon-fiber rims don’t. The premise seems a little far-fetched to me that a novice driver in a borrowed car can feel the aluminum wheels flex, though I don’t doubt the benefits of lighter wheels. Either way, it’s an interesting look at the future of wheel design and construction.