Carbon fiber is not a new material by any means, but it is still a fairly rare material to find on any car much less a factory Ford pickup truck or SUV. Even more extreme than just carbon fiber on a car is carbon fiber wheels. This kind of pricy performance part is typically reserved for only the most bananas hypercars like Koingzegg or Pagani. Now Ford is talking about using carbon fiber on some new pickup trucks and SUVs.
Is the Ford F-150 getting an update?
The Ford F-150 has been through it all, well, almost. According to The Drive, Ford’s Vehicle Program Director of Icons and Ford Performance, Ali Jammoul, wants to consider some Ford Trucks and SUVs as candidates for getting carbon fiber wheels. The Ford F-150 is one model mentioned while Jammoul spoke at the Ford Ranger Raptor event.
“You can actually migrate that technology to trucks… Pickup trucks, SUVs, for sure,” adding that “I think we need to experiment with [it], I really like that technology.”
Who made the first mass-produced carbon fiber wheels?
I know this sounds wild. A Ford F-150 with carbon fiber wheels? It sounds like more of a YouTube stunt at first. However, if you recall, Ford pioneered the first mass-produced carbon fiber wheels for the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R. The Drive also mentions that Ford used these high-tech wheels on the Ford GT40 and the Mustang Shelby GT500.
What is the point of carbon fiber wheels?
Carbon fiber wheels can help racing cars in a few different ways. First and foremost, carbon fiber is much lighter than the typical metals used to make car wheels. The lighter the car is, the quicker it can be.
Racing cars often get carbon fiber wheels to help with handling by offering relief to the unsprung parts of the cars. Unsprung car parts are the bits like wheels, tires, brakes, and even the suspension itself that aren’t supported by the suspension. By making these parts lighter, cars can brake later, accelerate quicker, and reach a higher top speed.
Redistributing and reducing weight has plenty of effect for track cars, however, the benefits of using carbon fiber wheels on Ford trucks and SUVs are a bit harder to nail down. If carbon fiber wheels help track cars set PRs, then what are F-150 drivers going to do with those fancy wheels?
Are carbon fiber wheels on an off-road truck worth it?
Dropping the weight of your rig – whether sports car or mud truck – is almost always a net positive. The lighter your truck weighs the better fuel economy you get and the easier it will handle, even if the results are marginal.
This lightweight and pricy material catches a bad wrap for being too fragile, but the truth is, the woven black material is shockingly strong stuff. However, you should underestimate how easy it is for off-roading to break otherwise tough parts of your truck or SUV. While there are no wheels that are fun to break, Motor1 found that a set of wheels for the GT350R cost a cool $30k back in 2015. Granted, carbon fiber wheels have gotten cheaper since then, but not enough to not make carbon fiber the most expensive option around.
Would this pricy performance part work?
The car market has shown us time and time again that if carmakers offer a performance option that may only have marginal benefits but cost a fortune, people will pay for it. These wheels would likely have some benefit for the performance models like the Ford F-150 Raptor, but like the Raptor itself, these wheels would likely be as much of a status symbol as they are performance parts.
Despite the fact Ford has made no official announcement about carbon fiber wheels for Ford trucks and SUVs, Jammoul sure seems excited by the idea.