In an effort to keep vehicle weight as low as possible,
General Motors will use forged aluminum wheels for the electric Chevy Volt,
which is due to debut in late 2010.
"Alcoa is pleased to supply forged aluminum wheels for the
Volt. Working closely with the GM team resulted in a wheel designed, engineered
and manufactured for light weight performance that will further extend the
range of this alternative propulsion vehicle," said Mike Parnell, general manager
of Alcoa Auto Wheels.
General Motors has targeted the Chevy Volt to deliver up to
40 miles of gasoline- and emissions-free electric driving with the
extended-range capability of hundreds of additional miles. Removing weight is a
major goal. The reinforced thermoplastic sheet shown in the hood for the
concept Volt is no longer under consideration, according to an exclusive Design
It seems apparent that GM wants to focus on proven
lightweight technologies, such as forged aluminum wheels, in an effort to keep
the Volt on schedule.
Alcoa said it focused on design, engineering and production
techniques to increase strength and durability while lowering the overall
weight of the wheel. Forged aluminum wheels provide increased strength and 20
percent less weight than cast aluminum wheels.
Lightweight wheels help reduce emissions and fuel
consumption while also boosting driving performance and efficiency from a lower
rotary inertia. As the energy used to accelerate and decelerate the wheel is
reduced, less mass is required in adjacent, un-sprung components such as
brakes, steering and suspension. Lowering overall un-sprung weight compounds
the benefits of fuel economy and reduces emissions.
The announcement on the forged wheels also reaffirms
statements by GM that the Chevy Volt car program is still full speed ahead
despite the company's financial problems. Jon Lauckner, GM's vice president
global program management, says: "It is one of the highest, if not the
highest, priority programs in the company and that hasn't changed, nor has the
commitment of resources to fund it. In fact, with the successful completion of
each development activity, we have more confidence than ever the Volt will
start production as planned in late 2010."
Last Friday, the federal government announced an agreement
to provide up to $17.4 billion in loans to bring GM and Chrysler to commercial
"viability." GM CEO Rick Wagoner held a press conference on Friday
where he thanked President Bush and said GM is "fully committed to leading
in energy-saving vehicles and technologies."