“The cooperation agreement with Maxion Wheels marks an important milestone in the development of our carbon-fiber wheel technology. It shows the technological maturity we have reached and combines our innovations with the leading player in the wheel industry. Commercialization is the logical next step.”
Based on ThyssenKrupp developments in carbon fiber hybrid wheels — with its unique braiding technology — the partners have built and tested prototypes for use on luxury cars and SUVs, according to the companies.
Testing took place at certified Maxion Wheels test labs. In addition, the ThyssenKrupp–Maxion Wheels team is working with Volkswagen Group to test prototypes on a vehicle. Public road tests have shown improved performance, such as superior damping, which leads to less vibration and road noise.
The parties did not disclose investment data nor the expected cost of a hybrid wheel vs. a conventional alloy wheel.
The new partners also said they'd continue to “enhance the value proposition of the lightweight aluminum and carbon fiber hybrid wheels.” For example, Maxion said it will bring its innovative liquid-forged aluminum discs to the cooperation, which offers comparable material properties as traditionally forged wheels at lower cost and at the full design flexibility of casted wheels.
“The aluminum/carbon fiber hybrid wheels we develop through our cooperation with ThyssenKrupp will fill an important niche in the ultra-lightweight vehicle market,” said Kai Kronenberg, vice president of business development and global innovation at Maxion Wheels.
“It will benefit our customers by expanding our already extensive range of products and capabilities, while enhancing our leadership position in the industry.”
The cooperation will, according to the companies, include the development and commercialization of the ultra-lightweight aluminum/carbon fiber hybrid wheels. A joint sales initiative and support team will engage the market to bring new capabilities and wheels that will benefit customers far into the future.
ThyssenKrupp Carbon Components is part of Germany's ThyssenKrupp diversified industrial group, which has traditional strengths in materials. In fiscal year 2013/2014 ThyssenKrupp generated sales of nearly $60 billion.
Novi-based Maxion Wheels is part of Brazilian wheel maker Iochpe-Maxion S.A. It makes wheels for passenger cars, light trucks and commercial trucks and trailers along with steel wheels for military, agricultural and other off-highway applications.
Maxion produces 65 million wheels per year, generating sales of more than $2 billion.