Bentley has just announced the availability of full carbon fibre rims for their Bentayga premium SUV. The rim, measuring 22 inches, took five years of engineering with Bucci Composites and is said to be the largest carbon fibre rim in production in the world.
Lightweight and strong, carbon fibre material has been used mainly on body panels or as a structural tub as the material is incredibly rigid and inflexible (as well as static placement), something that is the polar opposite for vehicle rim application.
However, with advancements in material science and manufacturing technologies, single-piece rims made from carbon fibre has slowly been selected as the ultimate factory upgrade for the most focused high-performance variant.
Apart from weighing 6 kg lighter than aluminium items, the new carbon rim has undergone rigorous TUV (Technical Inspection Association, Germany) testing and is the first carbon rim ever to pass all tests. One of the most severe tests is the impact test, where the carbon material has been engineered with the layering of fibre weaves to slowly deflate air in case of a failure.
This gentle deflation of air allows the driver to still have full control of the Bentayga whilst moving to the roadside. Aluminium wheels are said to crack that result in instant deflation which could lead to loss of control of the vehicle.
Apart from being safer even when it fails, the carbon fibre rim also promotes better tyre wear thanks to its rigidity and the all-important improvement in agility and steering response. Quick laps around the Nurburgring Nordschleife also confirmed the new carbon fibre rim’s performance advantage and physical strength.
Bucci Composites has patented various innovative production techniques combining with the use of high-pressure RTM (resin transfer moulding) in producing the carbon fibre rim. The process includes cutting of carbon fibre cloth into prescribed shapes and draped into a mould and repeated in a larger mould until the desired specification and size are achieved.
Customers can look forward to upgrading their “boring” aluminium rims to carbon fibre units through the Mulliner customisation portal in late 2021.