Carbon Revolution is in the business of making wheels. Carbon fiber wheels, to be exact. The Australian joint is responsible for some of the coolest wheels on OEM cars, including the wheels on the upcoming Chevrolet Corvette Z06. But with a future revolving around electricity, the company’s next big thing is electric pickup truck wheels made from God’s fiber.
We can all agree that carbon fiber wheels look pretty awesome, and using the material makes it easier for wheel designers to do more with wheels. Metal wheels, regardless of material, haven’t changed design much since wheels were put on cars.
Surface weave and texture is something that can be easily changed when incorporating carbon fiber, which allows designers to change it up. Truck designers like to be bold with their designs, and carbon fiber can help them achieve that goal.
But carbon wheels on pickup trucks are more than design — they are functional. To this point, to improve efficiency wheels have to be more closed. Aluminum wheels are heavier, as more material is needed to close off the wheel, which increases weight.
Carbon fiber is lighter and stronger, so not as much material is needed. Additionally, Carbon Revolution can design small carbon wing structures on the wheel to perform the aerodynamic equivalent of closing off the wheel without, you know, closing off the wheel.
Pickup truck wheels need to be strong. Trucks don’t always stick to tarmac, and wheels need to be able to handle the shocks and hits of debris off road. Also, electric vehicles are inherently heavier than gas-powered vehicles, so wheels need to be stronger there, too.
Carbon fiber wheels are 45% lighter, per Carbon Revolution, of an equivalent aluminum wheel of the same strength. That’s a significant weight savings.
The real coolness, though? Adding a small amount of mass to reinforce the carbon fiber wheel dramatically increases the strength of the wheel. So a wheel that is still 35% lighter than an aluminum wheel can have 50% more strength than the aluminum wheel. That’s incredibly powerful.
Carbon fiber wheels also help with noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH). Aluminum wheels are metal, and can transmit noise like a bell. That makes the cabin louder. When there’s no gas motor to counteract that sound, wheels and road noise can become the predominate noise in the cabin.
Carbon fiber has natural damping properties, to help muzzle the noise. Also, being less dense means it doesn’t transfer sound waves as easily. Combined with higher stiffness, sound is inherently less.
Additionally, ride quality can be better with carbon fiber because when you hit a big bump, there’s less unsprung mass to send the jolt up through the shock tower and into the vehicle.
Carbon Revolution is currently working on this right now, with prototype wheels in testing. The company wouldn’t tell us which OEM will be the first to debut with one of its truck wheels, but we’re thinking it’s probably going to be sooner than later.
We all think of high performance cars having carbon fiber wheels. The lightness and strength make sense for a racetrack. But for everyday wheels, carbon fiber still feels exotic.
As more OEMs adopt wheels, like the ones from Carbon Revolution, the price of manufacturing will drop, making these wheels even more feasible in the future for every day consumer vehicles.
To us, this is the biggest paradigm shift in wheel design since ancient humans invented the wheel. We’re totally here for it, and look forward to driving an EV in the future with Carbon Revolution’s wheels on the hubs.