Monday, December 3, 2012

Green Car Congress writes about the new eVOLVE Hybrid Wheels

New Lacks eVOLVE hybrid wheel technology shows
1.1 mpg highway gain in fuel efficiency on Ford Focus

3 December 2012

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Design of the eVOLVE wheel. Click to enlarge.

Lacks Wheel Trim Systems LLC, a business unit of Lacks Enterprises, Inc., a global supplier of trim systems to the automotive industry, introduced its new patented eVOLVE hybrid composite wheel technology, based on Lacks’ Chromtec wheel technology, at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Hybrid-composite eVOLVE wheels developed for the Ford Focus as an initial proof of design showed a fuel economy improvement of 1.1 miles per gallon highway by balancing weight reduction and optimizing aerodynamics. As a comparison, the Focus production wheel BM5J-1007-DB (17x7x50) weighs 23.7 lbs (10.75 kg); the eVOLVE wheel (17x7x50) weighs 19.2 lbs (8.7 kg). Use of the eVOLVE wheels showed a 0.4 mpg improvement on the city cycle.

Fuel economy testing was per EPA’s “Vehicle Specific 5-cycle Fuel Economy and Carbon-Related Exhaust Emissions Calculations” (CFR 600.114-12). Lacks engineers believe there is further room for optimization of fuel economy through design and materials.
Lacks’ eVOLVE hybrid wheel technology features a novel construction consisting of:
  1. A high-performance structural backbone using I-spokes that is optimized for handling, weight, stiffness and safety. (The wheels for the Focus use structural cast aluminum, primarily as a way to keep costs low; other materials are possible, Lacks says.)
  2. A lightweight, hybrid-composite design surface that is created to optimize aerodynamics. In testing, the Lacks engineers found using just the structural backbone wheel—even though it is lighter (17.4 lbs/7.89 kg)—did not improve fuel economy as much as the heavier hybrid wheel, because of the aerodynamic improvements offered by the design surface. (Video of wind-tunnel testing here.)
  3. The space between the design surface and the aluminum backbone structure is foam-filled. Lacks’ proprietary manufacturing process combines all the materials to create an strong and durable, yet lightweight, metal composite wheel.
In the design phase, Lacks took its wheels into wind tunnels in which they could rotate the tires to tune the aerodynamics—the requirements of which are based not just on the flow of air across the out surface of the wheel, but also on the air pulled from beneath the car through the openings in the rotating wheel to the outside. The use of the eVOLVE wheel improved vehicle aerodynamic Cd 9 counts.
Lacks is targeting the wheel technology at automakers; benefits of the Lacks eVOLVE wheels include:
  • Separation of design from the technical restraints of the wheel backbone;
  • Lower weight allowing increased vehicle content, large wheel diameters, or improved fuel economy.
  • Enhanced vehicle trim levels with design, finishes and increased fuel economy.

The Lacks eVOLVE wheel technology provides a direct answer to helping automakers meet increasingly stringent federal fuel efficiency standards.
—James Ardern, Dir. of Business Development
Lacks Wheel Trim Systems

Lacks Enterprises, Inc. was formed in 1961. The company now is a global diversified operation providing complete turnkey trim solutions leveraging the company’s experience in thermoplastic design, injection molding, plating, painting, assembly, logistics and supply chain management. Lacks also provides global export and distribution capabilities.

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