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Engineering Materials
Metal/Plastic Car Wheel Boosts MPG
2/8/2013

The eVOLVE Hybrid Wheel made of metal and plastic, designed for the 2012 MYFord Focus SE, has shown an increase of 1.1 MPG highway in third-party tests, compared to the car's standard production wheel.  (Source: Lacks Wheel Trim Systems)
The eVOLVE Hybrid Wheel made of metal and plastic, designed for the 2012 MYFord Focus SE, has shown an increase of 1.1 MPG highway in third-party tests, compared to the car's standard production wheel.
(Source: Lacks Wheel Trim Systems)

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Elizabeth M
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News to me
Elizabeth M   2/11/2013 11:55:53 AM
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Thanks for covering this, Ann. While power-train and alternative fuel research is well-known and well-covered, I had no idea research into wheels also was being done to boost MPG on automobiles. It's quite interesting to read about and I am consistently impressed by the multifaceted work designers and engineers are doing.

Rigby5
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Gold
Way too much waste
Rigby5   2/11/2013 3:38:37 PM
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While lighter wheels are nice, what I would prefer to see instead is for cars to get rid of all the electric motors for seats, door locks, windows, heat controls, etc.

Manual operations not only weight far less, but are far more reliable and cheaper to maintain.  If customers were actually told that things like keyless entry and remote start required leaving radio receivers on all the time, I doubt anyone would actually still want these silly features.

Thinking_J
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Platinum
always a compromise.....
Thinking_J   2/11/2013 5:02:36 PM
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The compromise: reduced cross flow = less cooling of brakes.

On most consumer cars the impact would likely be minimal.

On my car.. well, let's just say I like "spirited" driving on mountain roads.

At "Indy" a number of years ago.... they were noting other trade offs relating to the wheel design. Specifically the affect on handling at high speeds when the wheel was optimized for minimal drag, the wheels would start acting like forward "rudders" during high speed turns - making suspension tuning kinda weird.

 

 

bobjengr
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METAL/PLASTIC WHEELS
bobjengr   2/11/2013 6:12:23 PM
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Excellent Post--I think this is the way highway mileage improvement will occur-in an incremental fashion.  I know from previous posts, automotive companies are working on many projects to meet the new Federal guidelines coming quickly.  I have been following with great interest materials that are lighter yet as strong as ones now being used.  I feel the metal/plastic wheels represent a great breakthrough. 

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Huge improvement
Ann R. Thryft   2/11/2013 7:56:06 PM
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Thanks for weighing in, Chuck. The amount of MPG saved is one of the main things that attracted me to write about this. Also the fact that these guys have done their homework with 3rd-party testing, and at the same facilities, as automotive OEMs.



Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Huge improvement
Ann R. Thryft   2/11/2013 8:02:21 PM
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tekochip, one of the things that made me want to write about this wheel design was the fact that in other stories about alternative wheel materials some have commented about how much aerodynamics, as well as less weight from lighter materials, could add up to better performance.



Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Cost Benefit
Ann R. Thryft   2/11/2013 8:14:04 PM
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The whole point is the 1.1 MPG saved. There are no other wheels that can do that, so a monetary cost savings comparing this wheel to others that can't save 1.1 MPG wouldn't be very useful.

William K.
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Re: Way too much waste
William K.   2/11/2013 9:01:53 PM
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Not only is remote start a silly accessory, it is a source that delivers 100% on pollution, since the car warming up driverless for half an hour, or even just 15 minutes is just burning fuel delivering no travel value at all. All the warmup time the engine really needs is the time that it takes me to fasten my seatbelt after starting the engine.

William K.
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Platinum
Metal and plastic wheel
William K.   2/11/2013 9:12:09 PM
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This new wheel design looks like it keeps the same flaw that most aluminum wheels carry, which is that they corrode and develop rim leaks. That may not be a problem in south cal, but here in Michigan there are tons of salt dumped at the first hint of snow, and it is far worse then the navy salt-spray test could dream of being. So  wheel with a good plastic in the seal area would be an improvement indeed. I really find it hard to believe that the streamlining gives a 1.1MPG improvement, or even a 1.1% improvement, unless it is being compared to the most non-aerodynamic design made. 

One other question is about how the plastic portion holds up with the fairly common problem of disk brakes binding and getting really hot. That happens a bit with some Chrysler product vehicles, I have found. They knew about that problem in 1976, they have not solved it by 2005. Reduced it some, but not solved.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Metal and plastic wheel
William K.   2/11/2013 9:12:33 PM
NO RATINGS
This new wheel design looks like it keeps the same flaw that most aluminum wheels carry, which is that they corrode and develop rim leaks. That may not be a problem in south cal, but here in Michigan there are tons of salt dumped at the first hint of snow, and it is far worse then the navy salt-spray test could dream of being. So  wheel with a good plastic in the seal area would be an improvement indeed. I really find it hard to believe that the streamlining gives a 1.1MPG improvement, or even a 1.1% improvement, unless it is being compared to the most non-aerodynamic design made. 

One other question is about how the plastic portion holds up with the fairly common problem of disk brakes binding and getting really hot. That happens a bit with some Chrysler product vehicles, I have found. They knew about that problem in 1976, they have not solved it by 2005. Reduced it some, but not solved.

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