BMW may have carbon fiber wheels available in two years.

BMW may have carbon fiber wheels available in two years.  image

Text: Eric Tipan / Photos: | posted February 24, 2014 10:17

After incorporating CFRP on roofs and other parts of the M series, wheels is next in line.

The BMW Group prides itself in terrific handling dynamics from each of the models in their product line.  A major concept that makes this possible is the ‘intelligent lightweight design’ that is worked into every component of a BMW vehicle.  The ultimate goal is to ‘reduce driving resistances’ to achieve aerodynamic efficiency.

BMW’s Efficient Dynamics constantly toes the line between the right materials to use for a specific model while keeping its curb weight as low as possible.  Armed with cutting-edge technology and engineering, they are able to mix innovative materials with lightweight design that live up to BMW standards.

Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) is one such material BMW has utilized to lower the overall weight of their vehicles and maximize efficiency.  Being 30% lighter than aluminum, 50% lighter than steel and with a very high strength-to-weight ratio it would be the better option for parts of a vehicle’s body to reduce weight while improving body strength.  It can now be found on the BMW i3, i8 plus the M3, M4 and M6.

The BMW Group isn’t stopping there though.  They are currently exploring the use of CFRP on ‘rotating-mass components’ including aluminium/CFRP wheel rims.  Seat frames, instrument panel frames and spare wheels are also in the pipeline to get the CFRP treatment.

“We save 25 percent in weight compared to a forged alloy wheel with the hybrid wheel and another 10 percent if it’s completely carbon.  The carbon fibre wheels are very damage resistant. They’re actually more damage resistant to kerb hits than standard alloy wheels because the damage polishes out really easily.  You can scratch it when you park and it’s better to polish out than aluminium. You can have the metal finish to it with the alloy hybrid, but it’s technically a better solution to go all the way and have a full carbon fibre wheel,” said BMW’s lightweight construction manager, Franz Storkenmaier.