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Carbon Revolution plans assault on US aftermarket

Good to go: Carbon Revolution CEO Jake Dingle outside the company's new factory in Waurn Ponds, a suburb of Geelong in Victoria.

Geelong wheel-maker’s new factory to pump out carbon-fibre wheels for car-makers

23 Jan 2015

THE Australian company believed to have supplied the carbon-fibre wheels for the Ford Shelby GT350R Mustang Detroit show car is gearing up for a major assault on the American US aftermarket with its unique one-piece wheels for supercars.

And the company, Carbon Revolution, is also working with a number of other car-makers on wheels for future models.

The new stripped-out lightweight GT350R was revealed at the Detroit motor show wearing a set of carbon-fibre wheels that look suspiciously like the wheels Geelong-based Carbon Revolution has been making for the supercar aftermarket.

Speaking with GoAuto, Carbon Revolution chief executive Jake Dingle would not be drawn on whether the new track-focused Mustang was wearing the Geelong outfit’s wheels.

However, Carbon Revolution is the only company in the world that can produce one-piece carbon-fibre wheels.

“I can’t say anything. We have confidentiality with any customer and, until we are allowed to say things, we cannot,” Mr Dingle said.

Leaving Ford aside, Carbon Revolution is currently working on projects for other, unnamed car-makers and its wheels are expected to appear on other show cars during the year.

“I am happy to talk about the company or anything else. There is nothing I can say about any customer program at this point.”

But, while he was bound by confidentiality agreements with car-makers, Mr Dingle was happy to talk about Carbon Revolution’s other big plans for 2015.

The company commissioned its first purpose-built factory in November last year, on the Waurn Ponds, Geelong campus of Deakin University, and is currently ramping up production as new equipment is installed.

“We are getting ourselves set up for a fairly major campaign in the aftermarket, particular in North America, and for other customers who are not aftermarket customers and who I cannot identify.”

He said the aftermarket wheels would be for the same marques that Carbon Revolution already makes aftermarket wheels for – Porsche, Audi, BMW, Lamborghini and McLaren among others.

“It’s that high-end portfolio we have at the moment and we are looking to broaden that out through validating some more platforms as we go.”“The customer set and the models we are targeting are largely the same as they were before.

“We are looking to expand that just by adding fitments (new wheel sizes) and understanding the market better, running validation to make sure we can safely put wheels on different platforms with different types of loading and those sorts of things, technical specs.”

The opening of the new plant marks a significant step forward for Carbon Revolution, which previously made its unique wheels with a high labour content, resulting in wheels that could cost about $15,000 for a set of four.

Feverish development work in the past couple of years has been aimed at reducing the number of manual steps in the production process and mechanising as many steps as possible.

The ultimate goal is to then automate as many of the mechanised processes as possible.

Work continued on the new plant almost non-stop over the Christmas/New Year period, with the majority of staff only taking “a coupe of days” leave.

Mr Dingle said the new plant was “going very nicely” and had yielded a significant reduction in the cost of production.

“That is the big focus for this year, volumes and cost of production, and adding technologies (to the plant).

“There are some instantaneous (cost-saving) effects of just moving into a purpose-built facility, and then there’s new equipment arriving, being commissioned.

“There’s also streamlining of how we do things, there’s training, there’s expanding the workforce, all those sorts of things.”

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