BMW Developing New Carbon Fibre Wheels

The German car maker is planning to launch more products created using carbon-fibre technologies they worked on whilst designing the BMW i3 and i8 cars.

BMW’s lightweight construction manager, Franz Storkenmaier has been charged with the challenge of finding other uses for the new processes they developed, among some of the things his team have cooked up is a full carbon fibre steering wheel, a one piece carbon fibre propeller shaft for the X5 and a new carbon-plastic compound that is made from production waste.

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Along with the full carbon fibre wheel, BMW has also created a carbon/alloy hybrid featuring alloy spokes with a carbon fibre rim. This combination would be around 25% lighter than a forged alloy wheel, while a fully carbon wheel would add another 10% in weight savings.

For people concerned about the full carbon wheel’s lack of flex or how it would react after being hit, Franz told the Autoexpress;

The carbon fibre wheels are very damage resistant. They’re actually more damage resistant to kerb hits than standard alloy wheels because the damage polishes out really easily. You can scratch it when you park and it’s better to polish out than aluminium. You can have the metal finish to it with the alloy hybrid, but it’s technically a better solution to go all the way and have a full carbon fibre wheel.

Perhaps some of the more interesting news to come out, is how BMW are recycling the raw carbon fibre waste from the i3 and i8 production to make new parts on an industrial scale. The company chop up the various bits of leftover waste carbon fibre and mix them with plastic, this mix is then used in regular plastic-moulding machines, but comes out stronger and lighter than any thermoplastic. BMW has already developed a dashboard from this material which could replace the current magnesium one at a weight saving of about 20%.