Ford's New Lug Nuts Use Your Own Voice as a Key
Filing this under the super clever and quite useful.
While General Motors's PR department was busy tearing its hair out over the theft of wheels off a 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 prototype, Ford's was probably thanking providence. That's because the Blue Oval was just days away from announcing a technical development that might've prevented those wheels from being stolen: Personalized, one-off locking lug nuts
Ford Europe revealed Tuesday that it has devised a way to turn a variety of patterns into custom locking lug nuts and keys, which could make stealing wheels far more difficult—if not impossible. Ford can now take a symbol of the owner's choice, be it their initials, a Mustang logo, a racetrack, or even a waveform of the owner's voice ("keep the change, ya filthy animal") and 3-D print the design into a locking lug nut made of stainless steel. There is, of course, a corresponding key with the same pattern.
Locking lug nuts aren't a perfect security feature, as wheel thieves are known to sometimes hammer sockets over them to bypass not having the key. Doing that to this style of locking lug wouldn't be particularly easy due to its size, circular shape, and stainless steel construction, so the amount of hammering that it'd take to get a socket over this could wake half a neighborhood. Taking the stealthy approach and making a cast of the lug to reproduce its key wouldn't be easy either, as Ford designed this locking lug's grooves to widen as they get deeper—they'd break off the casting if you tried to use wax, for example.
As clever as this invention is, Ford Europe said nothing of what custom lug nuts like these cost to make, and didn't announce that they'd be available to the public. A spokesperson told The Drive that the program is "still in a concept phase" and "hasn't been launched yet," but that gives us hope that these lugs will indeed become available sometime in the future.
"It's one of the worst experiences for a driver, to find their car up on blocks with all four wheels gone," said a Ford Europe engineer in a press release. "Some alloy wheels can cost thousands to replace, but these unique rim nuts will stop thieves in their tracks. Making wheels more secure and offering more product personalization are further proof that 3-D printing is a game-changer for car production."
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