Porsche is bringing an all-carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic wheel to the market, saying it will be the first global automaker to offer the wheel when it debuts in early 2018 as an option on the 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series.
At 19 pounds (8.6 kg), the composite wheel is 20 percent lighter than an equivalent aluminum alloy wheel, but Porsche -- a unit of Germany's Volkswagen Group -- says the wheels are also 20 percent stronger.
The strength combined with lighter weight will improve performance with "more spontaneity in both acceleration and braking," Porsche said in a statement.
The wheels will be priced at more than $17,600 for a complete set.
The wheel's center is produced using woven carbon-fiber fabric, which is cut and assembled with over 200 individual components. To make the rim, Porsche has turned to a braided carbon fiber, investing in what it claims is the world's largest carbon-fiber braiding machine, with a nearly 30-foot diameter, made by Herzog of Oldenburg, Germany.
The carbon-fiber fabric center is then braided into the rim.
All together, the wheels use 11 miles of carbon-fiber material.
The braiding machinery also is used to integrate the rim and center parts before resin impregnation and initial resin curing in a press at high pressure and temperature. Following post-molding final cure, then cooling, the central lock is inserted, and clear protective lacquer is applied to aesthetically emphasize the wheel's full-carbon construction.
Porsche says the low-waste braided process results in particularly high density and compactness that benefits wheel rigidity.
David Vink is a correspondent for Plastics News Europe, a sister publication of Automotive News Europe.