Home' Australian Automotive Aftermarket Magazine : Australian Automotive Aftermarket e-Zine - Oct 13 Contents AUTOMOTIVE AFTERMARKET MAGAZINE OCTOBER 2013 55
The first major production facility is under
development and will be brought on-stream during
2013 with a capacity of around 250,000 wheels
The company is currently working with some of
the world's major vehicle manufacturers to bring
this technology to the market on their vehicles at
As acknowledged world leaders in this field,
Carbon Revolution has recently been engaged by
certification bodies in Europe to assist with
developing an industry standard for this new
The currently available products include a 19
inch wheel with a variety of rim widths and offsets
to suit models such as Porsche, Audi, McLaren
Named the CR-9, this wheel is also fitted to
the American supercar, the 420kp/h Shelby
As with other carbon fibre products, the raw
material is a significant part of the input cost and
these wheels retail for around $15,000 per set.
According to its research, Carbon Revolution
has determined that carbon fibre composites have
around five times the specific tensile strength
(tensile strength to material density) of steel,
aluminium, magnesium or titanium alloys.
Metals, particularly aluminium, do not fail due
to a single catastrophic event but because of
Each stress cycle on an aluminium wheel,
however small, takes the material that much
closer to fatigue failure.
Carbon fibre composite materials have an
almost infinite fatigue life.
Carbon Revolution one-piece Carbon Fibre Wheel.
Air inside technology: BBS of Germany has further
developed the cast alloy wheel by introducing air
This patented process introduces hollow
chambers into the wheel into places such as the
centre or inner or outer shoulders, depending on
the wheel type.
This significantly reduces the weight; claimed
to be up to several kilograms per wheel in some
Airless tyres: In 2005 Michelin demonstrated an
airless tyre called the Tweel.
The Tweel consisted of a thin rubber tread
reinforced by a composite plastic belt and
supported by resilient V shaped polyurethane
Michelin claimed a two to three times tread
life improvement over a conventional pneumatic
tyre and a fivefold improvement of lateral stiffness
with only a slight increase in rolling resistance.
A test drive of the Tweel identified excessive
noise at high speed
introduced its versi
of the airless tyre a
the 2011 Tokyo
With a unique
structure of spokes
stretching along the
inner sides of the
tyres supporting the
weight of the vehic
there is no need to
periodically refill th
tyres with air, mean
that the tyres requi
At the same tim
In addition, the spoke structure within the tyre
is made from reusable thermoplastic resin and
along with the rubber in he tread portion, the
materials used in the tyres are 100 percent
As a result, the tyres set a new standard in
terms of environmental friendliness, safety and
Bridgestone is pursuing this technological
development with the aim of achieving a 'cradle to
cradle' process that proactively maximises the
cyclical use of resources from worn tyres into new
tyres and the use of recyclable resources.
Lightweight steel wheels: Typically lightweight wheels
are expensive and lower cost wheels are limited
in their aesthetic freedom.
Current materials and processes have been
around for many years and it is clear that there is
an opportunity for the steel wheel to increase
market penetration within the automotive sector
by focusing on a stylish, lightweight and low cost
The Steel Market Development Institute in the
USA has commissioned a project to develop a
generic wheel design with the equivalent style,
structural performance and mass, along with a 30
percent cost reduction of a cast aluminium
The Lightweight Steel Wheel Concept, which
is in the design development stage, shows promise
as a means to develop lower cost, high style, steel
wheel solution with equivalent mass to typical cast
aluminium wheel solution.
In-wheel drive system: Michelin has been developing
its in-wheel drive system for some years now but
another company, Protean from the USA, has
revealed plans to commence mass production in
China from next year.
While this is not strictly a wheel, but more of
a drive system, the wheel is integral to its
Protean Drive is a fully integrated, direct-drive
solution that combines in-wheel motors for use in
hybrid and electric vehicles.
Each motor is packaged easily in the unused
space inside a conventional 18 to 24 inch wheel
and can use the original equipment wheel bearing.
The direct-drive configuration reduces part
count, complexity and cost, as there is no need to
integrate traditional drive-train components such
as external gearing, transmissions, drive-shafts,
axles and differentials.
Direct-drive, in-wheel motors provide far
greater flexibility to vehicle designers while
substantially reducing drive-train losses which
means less energy is wasted during both
acceleration and regenerative braking, resulting in
more of the energy from the battery pack being
available to propel the vehicle.
Each in-wheel motor can be controlled entirely
independently, providing far greater control,
performance and vehicle dynamics than any other
Protean In-wheel drive system
It is interesting to note that the Toyota Me-We
concept car, which debuted in Paris earlier this
year, uses in-wheel motors on all four wheels.
The only drawback to this system is the
relatively high un-sprung mass of 31kg per wheel.
Acknowledgement of assistance in preparation of this
article to Carbon Revolution, Deakin University, European
Aluminium Association, Otto Fuchs, SMDI, Protean,
Bridgestone, Toyota and BSS.
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