Consumers demanding bigger wheels on trucks and SUVs: OEMs turn to carbon fibre as aluminium becomes too heavy

10 March, 2022

10 March 2022

Consumer demand for even larger SUV and pickup truck wheels has driven OEMs to embrace carbon fibre, as traditional aluminium wheels become too heavy at required levels of durability and strength.

Carbon Revolution has developed the largest and lightest SUV and pickup truck wheels on the market, following the company’s successful penetration of the performance and premium end of the market with four OEM carbon fibre wheel programs.

Carbon Revolution CEO, Jake Dingle said the company is working with OEMs to provide uniquely styled wheels which meet strict quality and durability standards, in sizes rarely ever seen on production SUVs and pickups.

“The demand for larger SUV and truck wheels is increasing, particularly with the move to EV platforms, and carbon fibre is really the only feasible way that bigger wheels can be delivered into these rapidly evolving and weight sensitive categories,” Mr. Dingle said.

“The fact is that aluminium wheel technology has now maxed out when it comes to wheel size, they are just too heavy to be viable at these larger sizes.”

26-inch carbon fibre truck wheel render

Image: Render of a Carbon Revolution 26-inch one-piece carbon fibre wheel

Carbon fibre wheels meeting EV SUV and truck load requirements

Mr. Dingle said added weight and power of soon-to-be-released EV variants were putting further demand on wheel load requirements.

“Carbon fibre is a highly sophisticated material that can be optimised to deliver the required levels of durability and strength, without a prohibitive increase in weight,” he said.

“Carbon Revolution’s technology can deliver the wheel strength and durability required for the rapidly emerging EV generation of SUVs and pickup trucks, and at the same time provide very meaningful range extension benefits by combing enormous weight savings with aerodynamic designs.”

Carbon Revolution has already developed and will soon be in full production with a 23-inch SUV wheel for a major global OEM, that is stronger, more robust and around 45% lighter than a comparable aluminium wheel.

Mr. Dingle said reductions in unsprung weight – already demonstrated in the performance car category – would transform the SUV’s driving dynamics and extend range, while offering previously unseen levels of style.

24-inch carbon fibre pickup truck wheel

“We are also well progressed with the development of 24-inch carbon fibre pickup truck wheels. These will also be around 45%-50% lighter than an equivalent aluminium wheel of that size.”

“To put this into perspective the 24-inch wheel we are developing for the new class of EV trucks will be lighter than an 18-inch alloy wheel but will have a load capacity in excess of 1,200kg (2600 pounds).”

Carbon Revolution Engineering and Design Director, Dr Ashley Denmead, said carbon fibre is the only material that could feasibly meet SUV and truck durability requirements in larger sizes.

“Carbon fibre wheels create new levels of opportunity for the vehicle system. Larger wheels can be realised for the equivalent weight of much smaller aluminium wheels while still enabling excellent durability and ride and handling characteristics,” Dr Denmead said.

“At the same time, carbon fibre offers opportunities for design studios to create unique and distinctive aesthetics that simply aren’t possible to achieve in aluminium.”

24-inch carbon fibre truck wheel

Image: Carbon Revolution team member holds a future 24-inch one-piece carbon fibre wheel