Weight saving is becoming a very crucial factor for todayâ€™s performance cars. Just as manufacturers are trying to squeeze out that extra kilowatt, at the same time they are also trying to shed that extra kilogram. It is quite common for super cars to use carbon fibre body panels to reduce weight and this has been slowly making its way to normal road cars such as the new 2008 BMW M3 which will have a carbon fibre roof. Even AMG boasts using 19 inch alloy rims for their Black Series CLK63 that just barely weighs 11kg each, which is about 3kg lighter than the CLK63′s standard wheels.
The future will be even more promising as the rims will get even lighter by the introduction of plastic rims to the market. The only reason these wheels have not hit the market yet is that rims have to be designed to take punishment which includes curb impact, potholes and road salt. Before rims can enter mass production and get quality approved by regulatory bodies, they have to undergo reliable testing to ascertain whether they are strong enough and there has not been a reliable standard test method to test these plastic rims in a simulated environment yet. Researchers now at the Fraunhofer institute have managed to do this now. Also BTE hybrid-Tech have claimed their plastic rims has been tested for 250 000 km without any problems which gives enough ammunition to take to the regulatory bodies to decide if they are going to allow cars to ride on plastic in future.