Carbon Fiber Wheels Coming to the Corvette, Camaro and Cadillac V-Series
The crew at Autoblog recently had a chance to speak with General Motors’ William Rodgers, who is involved with the research and development of light polymer technology at GM. He explained that the company is working on carbon fiber wheel options for their high performance vehicles and while no timetable was offered as to when they might arrive – it seems apparent that GM will be the second company to offer an “affordable” car in the US with carbon fiber wheel technology.
Carbon Fiber GM Wheels
While the details are short, we can expect all of General Motors’ top performance vehicles will get these new carbon fiber wheels, including the Cadillac V-Series models, the Camaro and the Corvette. Like the wheels on the new Shelby GT350R Mustang, these wheels will likely be produced by the Australian firm Carbon Revolution and when they become available on those high performance models, they will improve performance in a variety of measures.
Depending on the application, these carbon fiber wheels could cut as much as 35 pounds per wheel – leading to an overall vehicle weight reduction of 140 pounds just from switching to the new wheel design. More importantly, that weight being removed decreases the amount of effort required to turn the wheels, so when you remove weight from the wheels, you effectively increase wheel horsepower. These lighter wheels can improve acceleration, top speed and even braking distances in some applications, so there is literally no downside to this shift outside of cost.
However, when you consider the price of the Cadillac V-Series models and the Corvette Z06, tacking on a grand or so for improved performance won’t raise the hackles of most buyers. The same should be true for the Camaro ZL1 and the future Camaro Z28, but I would also expect to see these wheels offered for the Camaro SS, the Camaro 1LE, the Corvette Stingray and the Corvette Grand Sport – even if only as part of performance packages like the Z07 package.
The Growth of Carbon Fiber Wheels
When the Ford Shelby GT350R was introduced at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, we were surprised to see that the most track capable Mustang of all time would come with carbon fiber wheels. We weren’t surprised because a high performance item like this is that unusual, but it is that unusual for a car that is so relatively inexpensive. These carbon fiber wheels are on the cutting edge of technology and, as a result, they are very expensive so because of that, we have traditionally only seen them in the aftermarket, on race cars and on some of the world’s most expensive supercars.
That is, of course, until carbon fiber wheels were introduced on the 2015 Ford Shelby GT350R Mustang, which costs just $62,195 - $2,787,805 less than the Koenigsegg One:1 which features similar carbon fiber wheel technology. The introduction of these lightweight, high tech rollers was marketed as a game-changer for Ford, but critics of the newest Mustang were quick to insist that carbon fiber wheels aren’t going to work on an American road car. Some of those critics were GM fans, but now that GM is working on similar carbon fiber wheels for their performance cars, I imagine that their tune will change.
The bottom line is that with the introduction of carbon fiber wheel technology to the Corvette, Camaro and Cadillac lineups – we should be seeing improved performance from every one of the automaker’s best go-fast cars.