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Geelong wheels for Mustang Shelby GT350R

Wheel of fortune: Federal industry minister Christopher Pyne talking at the opening of the Carbon Revolution plant at Deakin University in Geelong.

Carbon Revolution on the rise with Ford on board for hardcore Shelby GT350R

General News logo7 Oct 2015

By IAN PORTER

FORD will fit Geelong-made carbon-fibre wheels to its top two sportscars – the Shelby Mustang GT350R and the Ford GT – even though they cost “several times” what the alternative aluminium wheels would cost.

Ford Performance chief engineer Jamal Hameedi said the wheels, produced by Australian company Carbon Revolution, will be used because they give advantages in several crucial areas.

“These wheels, make no mistake, are revolutionary,” he said at the official opening of the Carbon Revolution plant at Deakin University's Waurn Ponds campus in Geelong, Victoria.

“They are a game-changer for a performance car, in terms of acceleration, unsprung weight and handling.

“We were able to take 30kgs off the unsprung weight of the car which, to an engineer, is a mind-blowing number.” When pressed, Mr Hameedi said that the Carbon Revolution wheels would cost “several times” what a competitor aluminum wheel would cost.

But he said that, thanks to advances in Carbon Revolution’s production processes, they would be cheaper than the after-market wheels Carbon Revolution has been selling up to now, which cost around $15,000 for a set of four.

Mr Hameedi was speaking after the new federal minister for manufacturing, innovation and science Christopher Pyne officially opened the plant.

Mr Pyne applauded the achievements of Carbon Revolution and said the government was keen to promote similar innovative thinking in other areas.

“We know that our future is lies in exactly this kind of advanced manufacturing set-up we have here at Carbon Revolution,” he said.

He said the Turnbull government was set on moving away from the old manufacturing paradigms to new manufacturing paradigms based on innovation and new materials.

He said prime minister Malcolm Turnbull had commissioned him to come up with a National Innovation Agenda that would see the government assist development in other new and emerging areas and technologies.

“When I took over this job, Malcolm asked me to come up with some ideas to bring together to have a national innovation agenda.

“After our first meeting he said ‘That’s great, but I’d like you to release your inner revolutionary’.

“I said that will cost money. He said let me worry about the money, you get on with the ideas. That’s very exciting for a cabinet minister, let me tell you.” “When everybody else around the cabinet table is being asked to tighten their belts, and reasonably so, the prime minister sees innovation as a driver of the economy into the future, and of course it is.” Carbon Revolution CEO Jake Dingle was forthright about the company and its prospects.

“What is happening in this factory and around this factory is of global significance and not just because we are producing a world-first technology item,” he said.

Mr Dingle was referring to the cluster of carbon-fibre-related research operations and companies clustered on the Deakin campus, including the Carbon Nexus company, which makes carbon-fibres, and the CSIRO, which has a polymer-development division there.

Aerospace and automotive supplier Quickstep Holdings is currently building a factory on-site, too.

“The broader set of activities that are coming together around this facility are globally significant.

“They are significant in terms of the evolution of the composites industry generally around the world.

“It is still a very immature industry and one that has been dominated by aerospace players globally for quite some time and is now starting to change quite dramatically.

“A couple of hundred metres that way we have Deakin University, Carbon Nexus and CSIRO and, along with partners like RMIT (University), are very well placed to support us in driving this industry forward and being in a leadership position.” “What we are seeing here is the birth of a new industry, carbon-fibre wheel manufacturing.

“With the partnerships Carbon Revolution has in place, and the team we have, we are extremely well placed to really be the prime mover in making this industry develop and making this happen.”

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