Carbon fiber has turned into a bit of a buzzword on our blog, thanks mostly to the design and engineering innovations of the i8. It’s hard to deny that the folks in Munich are quite enamored with the stuff, especially when they tease something like these
At BMW’s Innovation Days in February, the i branch showed off these carbon fiber wheel concepts. There are at least two variants, one where the wheel is entirely made of carbon fiber, and one where the rim is carbon fiber but the spokes are a hybrid alloy. Respectively, these would be 35% and 25% lighter than standard aluminum wheels. These weight reductions see their greatest benefit in reducing a vehicle’s unsprung mass – the suspension and wheels – which improves handling.
While regulations do not currently account for carbon fiber wheels, BMW is not concerned by these barriers. One engineer is on record saying that the wheels are very resistant to damage, even claiming that cosmetic damage like scuffing is easier to repair than on normal wheels.
Wheels weren’t the only carbon fiber components BMW was showing off last month. They also displayed a full carbon fiber steering wheel and carbon fiber propeller shaft.
We have to say that in addition to being a result of nifty recycling and all the other benefits, these carbon fiber wheels look cool, too. They would be a great fit on any of the upcoming i-series vehicles.
The reports we’ve read say BMW might make carbon fiber wheels available within the next two years, pending government approval. We wager this will be a “Europe first” measure, but Leith BMW will keep our fingers crossed that they come stateside, too.
You can see more pictures and read more in these articles on Autoblog and Car and Driver.