Ford Trucks and SUVs Could Soon Get Carbon Fiber Wheels
It’s an unconventional idea, but Ford has had an affinity for carbon wheels for some time now.
Carbon fiber wheels are still a rare item in the automotive market. They've made appearances on multi-million dollar Koenigseggs, and even worked their way down to some of Ford's hotter muscle cars in recent years. However, the automaker out of Michigan isn't content to stop there, and is now contemplating fitting carbon wheels to its pickup trucks and SUVs, reports CarExpert.
Ford's Vehicle Program Director of Icons and Ford Performance, Ali Jammoul, believes there are more applications in the Ford stable deserving of carbon fiber wheels, including the F-150 pickup truck. Speaking at a recent Ford Ranger Raptor event, Jammoul stated that "You can actually migrate that technology to trucks… Pickup trucks, SUVs, for sure," adding that "I think we need to experiment with [it], I really like that technology."
Ford is no stranger to the world of carbon wheels, having created the world's first mass-produced examples for the Mustang Shelby GT350R. The Ford GT and Mustang Shelby GT500 also got carbon wheels, chosen to help reduce unsprung mass in the pursuit of handling and performance. Lighter wheels require less suspension effort to keep them on the road over perturbations, and less energy to accelerate and brake, too. Shaving off even a few ounces of wheel weight can have measurable performance benefits on track.
However, the benefits of carbon wheels are a little more nebulous when it comes to a pickup truck or SUVs. Few F-150 owners are trying to set personal bests on track, and those doing hardcore off-road driving may be concerned about damaging a set of carbon wheels.
While they aren't as fragile as some myths suggest, any wheel can be damaged when things go sideways on an offroad trail, and carbon wheels are much more expensive to replace than their conventional steel or aluminum counterparts. Back in 2015, Motor1 reported that carbon fiber wheels for the Shelby GT350R cost a mighty $30,000. While costs have come down since then due to mass production, carbon wheels still exceed the costs of their traditional counterparts by a significant margin.
That's not to say there aren't benefits to be had. Lighter wheels would be ideal for a F-150 Raptor taking on bumpy dirt roads at high speed, and there are fuel economy bonuses to be gained as well. Indeed, the efficiency benefits of lighter wheels that can also be made to have aerodynamic benefits are cited as one of the key reasons carbon wheels could be a big thing in the EV world as well as on trucks. If anything, though, expensive carbon wheels are likely to become a desirable feature as much for status as performance when it comes to the truck world.
Jammoul believes those reasons are as good as any, telling CarExpert that "It's weight savings, it looks great, and customers love it. They're willing to pay." While carbon fiber wheels are likely to remain a niche technology for some time, Jammoul is buoyant about future prospects. "Every time I looked at carbon fiber wheels, even though the volume is low, it made a lot of sense," he says, adding "I'm very excited about it, and I think it's gonna be great."
Ford hasn't made public any firm plans, but it's clear there's enthusiasm in the company for the idea. It may not be long before Ford's performance trucks and SUVs are rolling around the neighbourhood on a sweet set of carbons. If your ride is duly equipped, just consider investing in some locking wheel nuts to protect your investment.
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