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Ford confirms Geelong carbon wheel deal for GT
Latest carbon-fibre technology goes into Australian wheels for blistering Ford GT
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18 May 2016
FORD’S performance flagship, the 447kW GT supercar, will get Australian-made Carbon Revolution carbon-fibre wheels employing next-generation resin and fibre technologies that allow a more intricately styled design.
The 20-inch wheels will be an option on the $US485,000 ($A663,000) carbon-fibre-bodied GT that goes into production in Canada later this year in a limited run of 500 units – 250 a year for the next two years.
The wheel supply deal – formally confirmed in Detroit overnight – is the second awarded by Ford to Geelong-based Carbon Revolution for its world-beating light-weight carbon-fibre rims.
Last October, Carbon Revolution became the first carbon-fibre wheel manufacturer to sign a deal with a global car-maker, when it agreed to supply its wheels as standard equipment for Ford’s Mustang Shelby GT350R.
At the time, GoAuto reported that the Ford GT would be the next Ford car to get the bespoke wheels using Carbon Revolution’s patented technology, developed at its plant at Deakin University’s Waurn Ponds campus outside Geelong.
While the wheels will be exported to North America for the GT, none will be returning to Australia, as the stunning coupe is destined only for left-hand drive markets where the queue of buyers exceeds supply by a large margin.
Powered by a twin-turbo 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 linked with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, the GT is said to be capable of dashing to 100km/h in less than three seconds.
Announcing the deal, Ford Performance global director Dave Pericak said Ford was the innovator as the first to offer a mass-produced carbon-fibre wheels as a standard offering on Shelby GT350R Mustang.
“Now, Ford GT will offer the next generation in carbon-fibre wheels with an advanced resin and fibre technology that gives our designers more freedom, while also showcasing the structure of the material’s weave,” he said.
Ford Australia communications and public affairs director Wes Sherwood said Ford was bullish about the prospects for carbon-fibre wheels for its cars, which is why it was pioneering the development in the global motor industry.
He said Ford Performance cars such as the GT and Shelby Mustang provided a good test bed to explore whether the technology might be feasible for future up-scaled production.
“This partnership provides a glimpse into what is possible for the Australian automotive industry as the Geelong-based innovator begins production of the mass-produced carbon-fibre wheels for the Ford GT performance car in North America,” he said.
Carbon Revolution is in talks with other manufacturers for high-volume contracts for its wheels, with the aim of ramping up production to more than 60,000 units a year within two years and ultimately 250,000 a year.
For the Ford GT, the 20-inch carbon-fibre wheels will be an extra-cost alternative to the standard alloy rims, but because carbon items are stronger and lighter, saving 1kg of unsprung weight per wheel and – according to Ford – reducing inertia by 25 per cent, Ford expects many GT buyers to be tempted to tick the box.
Describing the wheels as “the perfect, innovative complement for the all-new Ford GT”, Ford says the lightweight wheels improve ride quality, vehicle dynamics, steering feel and refinement.
“A lighter wheel requires the suspension to do less work to control the hardware attached to it, and improves consistent contact with the road surface, improving traction and driver control,” it said in a media release announcing the deal.
“Each spinning wheel also acts like a gyroscope, so a lighter wheel can improve steering feel and dynamics as it requires less energy to accelerate or turn the wheels, improving vehicle response. Vehicle efficiency is improved as less energy is required to get the wheel spinning.
“While metal wheels can act like a bell, the dense, inert nature of carbon fibre provides for overall improved performance in terms of noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) and a quieter ride – leading to greater comfort and refinement.”
Ford says the optional wheels will be offered in two finishes – matte or gloss clearcoat – allowing the natural weave of carbon-fibre to show through, matching the exposed carbon fibre on the Ford GT’s sills, fascia and extractor.
It is unclear how much the optional carbon-fibre wheels will cost.
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