Porsche has announced it is bringing an all-CFRP (carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic) wheel to market in 2018, debuting as an option on the current 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series.
Each wheel weighs 8.6kg, which is 20 per cent lighter than the equivalent aluminium alloy version, but is also 20 per cent stronger – improving both acceleration and braking performance, according to Porsche.
They’re not cheap, priced at US$17,600 (AU$22,000 using a straight conversion) for a full set of the 20-inch wheels, though Porsche Australia is yet to release local pricing.
It’s a complex process, with the wheel’s centre alone incorporating woven carbon-fibre fabric cut into 200 individual pieces. For the production of the rim, Porsche has invested in what it says is the world’s largest carbon-fibre braiding machine, with a nearly 10-metre diameter, manufactured in Germany, by Herzog.
Once both pieces are completed, the braiding machine is used to marry the centre with the rim, before resin impregnation and curing in a special press under high pressure and heat. Once the final curing and cooling process is completed, the central lock is inserted, before a protective lacquer is applied to highlight the all-carbon construction.
All told, the specially produced wheels use nearly 18 kilometres of carbon-fibre material.
Porsche also claim the high-density braiding process adds to the wheel’s rigidity.
While the German luxury car manufacturer might claim a unique production process for its carbon-fibre wheels, it’s not the first time we’ve seen lightweight carbon-fibre wheels on production cars.
Australian company, Carbon Revolution gained notoriety for supplying the carbon-fibre-bodied Ford GT supercar with carbon-fibre wheels, after Ford first included the lightweight wheels on the Shelby GT350R Mustang.
And if you think Porsche’s wheels are expensive, think again.
Swedish Supercar manufacturer, Koenigsegg, was charging US$64,000 (80,000) for its hollow carbon-fibre Aircore wheels, a couple of years ago.