It seems carbon fiber is starting to show up everywhere in cars to cut weight, with wheels being one of the latest examples.
There are already some aftermarket carbon-fiber wheels available, but now Ford will offer them as standard equipment on its sportiest new Mustang model--the Shelby GT350R.
Performance cars aren't the only ones that could benefit, though.
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The weight reduction afforded by carbon fiber can help increase fuel efficiency in a wide range of vehicles, though it's easier to cost-justify in higher-performance or pricier cars.
However, no matter what car they're attached to, carbon-fiber wheels are fairly complex and expensive to make.
2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R’s carbon fiber wheels
A new design that combines carbon fiber with the aluminum already used in many production wheels is intended to address that issue.
Two German companies--ThyssenKrup Carbon and Maxion Wheels--developed this design, and claim it makes for lighter wheels at an "attractive" price.
ThyssenKrup is a leader in carbon-fiber applications, while Maxion is the world's largest wheel manufacturer.
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The aluminum-carbon hybrid wheels are 40 percent lighter than traditional forged aluminum wheels.
That means they're almost as light as wheels made entirely from carbon fiber, the partners claim.
While any weight reduction can yield performance improvements, lightening wheels can be particularly beneficial.
Carbon Revolution carbon fiber wheels
As well as boosting fuel economy, the lower unsprung weight of carbon fiber or carbon-aluminum wheels can improve steering feel, handling, acceleration, and braking.
The dampening properties of carbon fiber may also help decrease noise, vibration, and harshness, suspension engineers say.
ThyssenKrup and Maxion say they've built and tested prototype wheels for use on luxury cars and SUVs.
They also claim to be working with the Volkswagen Group to test prototypes on an unspecified vehicle.
While both companies plan to commercialize the technology, no production timeline for the carbon-aluminum wheels is being discussed at the moment.