A carbon revolution is about to launch itself onto the world. It has nothing to do with carbon emissions, or not much, Carbon Revolution is the name of a company that started in someone’s garage in Geelong about a decade ago. It’s about light-weight carbon fibre wheels for cars. The world-first technology was initially used in Formula One, then in May it won a contract to supply wheels for the Ferrari-fighting Ford GT, the fastest and most expensive Ford supercar ever made. It was a move from the race track to the road.
Now the company is raising $50 million to supply lightweight carbon fibre wheels to Ford Motor Company for the $US450,000 ($600,000) Ford GT and $US63,000 Mustang Shelby GT350R sports cars.
There are not a lot of these cars:
- There are about 1000 Shelby GT350Rs on the road – the car was named Performance Car of the Year 2016 by US magazine Road and Track – and Ford is looking at increasing its initial Ford GT build of just 500 in the face of demand for 13 times that number.
The idea is to keep them more exclusive than the Ferrari.
Ford is looking at extending the technology to cheaper cars and other makers are interested. Carbon Revolution are planning 100,000 a year by financial year 2021, and have volumes of that magnitude in their order books. As they crank up volumes and industrialise the process they expect to reduce costs by 30 – 35 per cent year on year until 2019.
At that point they could be competitive with most could then with top forged alloy wheels – before considering the significant weight advantages. High volume contracts could then justify building plants capable of producing up to a million units per year.
- If that comes about Carbon Revolution plans to build large plants in North America and Europe in partnership with its Ronal, while maintaining technology development and more complex manufacturing operations in Australia. Global carmakers require volume suppliers to be close to their major markets.
Yes, Swiss alloy wheels giant Ronal is in on the ground floor.
Employees are expected to increase from 100 now to 300 in about five years.
Carbon Revolution is one of 63 companies that will continue to supply parts to Ford after the Broadmeadows and Geelong factories close next month in October 2016.