Carbon seems to be the talk of the town these days. Whether its the talk of graphene chips replacing silicon chips in computers of all sizes or the talk of carbon fibers in drug delivery or even bulletproof vests, carbon seems to be king. Carbon allotropes (different structural forms of the same material) are becoming more and more renowned for their high strength to weight ratio. So BMW is now introducing its models with the choice of carbon fiber wheels.
Some great cars out there like the Shelby Ultimate Aero already has the option of carbon fiber wheels. They were hooked up with the black stuff by an Australian Company called Carbon Revolution. All Carbon Fiber Wheels have proven to be lighter than forged alloy wheels and have been tested on a company called Wed Sports in Japan (though that was and remained a prototype).
The obstacles to making this project marketable is to prove its strength to the authorities. BMW has developed a carbon and forged alloy wheel that is 25 per cent lighter than the forged alloy wheel and the full carbon wheel is 35 per cent lighter. The strength of the wheels and their safety on the streets is still to be tested.
BMW also has a carbon-plastic hybrid material under consideration for everything from seat frames to spare wheels and also a carbon fiber steering wheel. These fibers will act as replacements to aluminium and steel in conventional cars and hopefully change the game.