General Motors Wants Carbon-Fiber Wheels For Its Performance Cars
Likely to offered as optional equipment for the Camaro Z/28, Corvette Z06, and Cadillac V-Series modelsby Ciprian Florea, on
General Motors is planning to develop its own carbon-fiber wheels as optional equipment for its performance-oriented cars. That’s the word from Autoblog, which found out about the company’s plans from William Rodgers, the man in charge of GM’s research and development of light polymer systems. There’s no timetable as to when the new carbon-fiber wheels will hit the market, but it shouldn’t take too long given that Ford is already offering carbon rollers for the Mustang Shelby GT350R and the upcoming GT supercar.
General Motors will reportedly work with Carbon Revolution as its supplier. The Australian company produces the world’s only one-piece carbon fiber wheel and provides carbon-fiber rollers to Ford Motor Company. Rodgers confirmed that Cadillac’s V-Series models, including the CTS and ATS, would be candidates for the new technology, but range-topping versions of the Chevrolet Camaro and Corvette — the Z/28 and Z06, respectively, are also expected to get similar options.
According to Rodgers, GM is already testing carbon-fiber wheels for wear-and-tear and examining repair costs. The company expects the new wheels to save about 35 pounds per vehicle and enhance driving dynamics due to their stiffer structure and lower unsprung and rotational mass.
General Motors will become the second automaker to offer carbon-fiber wheels on a mass-produced car after Ford. Carbon rims were first introduced by Koenigisegg in 2005. The wheels were offered as optional equipment for the CCX supercar and have since them been available in the aftermarket from various shops.
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Why it matters
The benefits of carbon-fiber wheels are undeniable. Not only are they significantly lighter than aluminum rims, they’re also stronger and stiffer, while Carbon Revolution’s single-piece construction offers the superior durability needed for day-to-day use. Track testing has revealed that the carbon-fiber wheels can improve suspension performance for increased grip, enhanced control, and enhanced stability during cornering. The use of carbon rollers also improves steering feel, which makes the car easier to drive at the limit. Having said that, it’s not surprising that General Motors wants to adopt the technology. Also, with Ford already ahead of the game, GM is likely to speed up the process and offer the new carbon-fiber wheels as early as 2017. If we were to take a guess, we’d say that the first GM-built sports car to ride on carbon rims will be the Chevrolet Camaro Z/28. What matters here is that GM is joining the ranks of the very few companies that offer carbon-fiber wheels, a sign that more car makers are considering this state-of-the-art technology. Pretty soon, most mainstream brands that sell high-performance cars will probably have such options.
Read our full review on the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 here.