Alcoa Automotive Wheels, a division of Alcoa Wheel and Transportation Products, announced that it has been awarded the wheel program for the Chevy Volt extended-range electric vehicle. Alcoa focused on design, engineering and production techniques to increase strength and durability while lowering the overall weight of the wheel. Forged aluminum wheels by Alcoa provide increased strength and durability gains and are typically greater than 20% lighter while doubling strength when compared to a similar cast aluminum wheel. General Motors has targeted the Volt to deliver up to 40 miles of gasoline and emissions-free electric driving with the extended-range capability of hundreds of additional miles. Volt production is expected to begin in late 2010.
Lightweight wheels not only have a linear effect on reducing emissions and fuel consumption but can also further improve 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.