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Carbon Revolution pushes toward mainstream

Aussie company set to supply lightweight carbon-fibre wheels for mainstream EVs

26 Aug 2021

GEELONG-BASED manufacturer Carbon Revolution is attempting to revolutionise the automotive wheel with a move towards mainstream carbon-fibre construction.


For more than 14 years, the company has been producing carbon-fibre wheels for high-end manufacturers but says larger, heavier wheels are contributing unnecessarily to already-heavy electrified models; especially upcoming North American battery-electric pick-up and SUV models with wheel diameters up to 24 inches.


With battery packs forming a significant proportion of an electrified vehicle’s mass, Carbon Revolution CEO Jake Dingle says that other areas of weight saving must be considered. His company’s product can reduce the weight of a traditional alloy wheel by as much as 40 per cent, while also reducing aerodynamic drag and the transmission of road noise.


“When we set the business up as a pure-clay carbon-fibre business… the intent of the business was to create a disruptive technology, to scale up and industrialise everything we do,” Mr Dingle told Automotive News.


“We had to automate processes and drive the hours-per-wheel down to single digits, and that’s where we are at the moment.


“We’ve always intended this to be an efficiency technology that drives much more into the mainstream and large scale. The company has about 50 patents related to the product and the manufacturing process.”


Carbon Revolution’s patented manufacturing process for carbon-fibre wheels has taken the business from a cottage industry into a high-volume, mainstream manufacturer.


The automation of the manufacturing process coupled with lower raw material costs provides an opportunity to capture a share of the market and provide tangible improvements for electric vehicle manufacturers and consumers.


Mr Dingle claims a set of carbon-fibre wheels can reduce unsprung mass by as much as 50kg.


Typically, a lighter wheel rebounds more readily from bumps in the road to provide more continual grip. This is one of the main reasons lightweight wheels are favoured in high-performance applications, especially those where improved steering feel and response are desired.


Carbon Revolution engineer – and former Ford global head of chassis engineering – Ron Collins, told Automotive News the cost of carbon-fibre wheels to automotive manufacturers was not extremely close to aluminium wheels, and will equalise once volume increases.


Mr Collins said that Carbon Revolution was also working to address issues of fragility in carbon-fibre wheels, adding layers in critical load areas to minimise the risk of damage from potholes and corrugations.


Carbon Revolution wheels are tested in the same laboratory used by a range of European OEMs and are subjected to the same industry load tests.


Mr Collins said all Carbon Revolution wheels have met or in some instances exceeded these most rigorous standards and was quick to highlight the benefits a lightweight carbon-fibre wheel can play in improving a vehicle’s dynamics.


“On a car, bigger wheels make the steering feel a bit heavier. With lighter wheels, you get better steering response, and the car feels lighter on its feet. But also, you propagate that through the whole vehicle,” explained Mr Collins.


“Because it is so much lighter in a critical place, you can lighten up the suspension and the body attachments. There’s only positive upsides to taking the weight out (of the wheel).”


Registered on the Australian Stock Exchange, Carbon Revolution has been noted as a tier-one OEM supplier since 2007.


Progressing from the supply of singular prototypes, the company now manufactures carbon-fibre wheels for some of the world’s most prestigious automotive manufacturers and is recognised as a leader in the sector.


Carbon Revolution wheels are found as an OEM part on cars including the Ford GT, Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R and GT500, Ferrari 488 Pista, F8 Stradale and Spider, SF90 Stradale and Renault Megane RS Trophy R. It currently has 11 programs underway with five global OEMs and says a further five programs are in the pipeline.

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