Big Numbers & Light Ones
Forged aluminum wheels for trucks—as in Class 8 trucks, for example—are evidently big business. At least for Arconic, which announced last week that it has signed more than $450-million in long-term agreements with customers around the world.
The largest customer is PACCAR, which will be getting Alcoa wheels for medium-and heavy-duty trucks available under the Kenworth and Peterbilt badges.
Another number, although smaller than 450-million is interesting, as well: 1,400.
As in 1,400 pounds.
That’s what Arconic says that the company’s new Ultra ONE wheels, which are made with some Bruce Willis-sounding proprietary alloy: MagnaForce, can save per truck when they’re used in place of steel wheels. (This is the whole rig, including the trailer. That is, a 22.5 x 14-inch wheel with a 12,800-pound rating weighs 52 pounds, so obviously, if the wheels are 47 percent lighter than a steel wheel, it takes several to achieve the 1,400-pound weight-down.)
Making the number of wheels necessary to fulfill those contracts is certainly demanding, as they are being produced in Arconic Wheel and Transportation Products facilities in Cleveland, Ohio; Monterrey, Mexico; Kofem, Hungary; and Suzhou, China.
A young(ish) guy that I’ve known for a number of years, a man who spent the better part of his career writing for auto buff books and who is a car racer on the side, mentioned to me that his wife has a used Lexus ES Hybrid.
For the high-performance Corvette Z06 GM defied tradition and switched from a steel to an aluminum frame.
While aluminum vs. steel is getting more contentious in the world of light-duty trucks, when it comes to creating structures, the heavy-duty truck people know something important about strength and mass.