Ford Yanks Expensive High-Tech Down To Earth With 2016 Shelby GT350R Mustang's Exotic Wheels

Bill Visnic

There are cars available that ride on wheels made of carbon-fiber, a high-tech composite material renowned for its extreme strength and light weight. You will pay giant money for such a car – and such a wheel.

But Ford Motor is bringing the almost miraculous attributes of carbon-fiber wheels to the (sort of) mainstream with the 2016 Shelby Mustang GT350R coming to dealer showrooms this fall. Each 19-inch wheel weighs a feathery 18 pounds, which chops a total of 60 pounds from this hyper-performance, racetrack-oriented Mustang. Ford spent untold millions developing the aluminum body of the all-new F-150 pickup truck to cut upwards of 700 pounds, so achieving a 60-pound weight reduction merely with wheels is a titanic return on investment – even if by any metric, carbon-fiber wheels currently could not be considered “cheap.”

Manufacturing carbon-fiber components is costly and time-intensive process that for now limits the material’s use mostly to expensive, nearly hand-made vehicles, although companies ranging from Ford to Ferrari and BMW (with its carbon-intensive i3 plug-in car) are scrambling to reduce costs as the auto industry is underway with an all-hands-on-deck effort to cut serious weight from all vehicles as tougher federal fuel-economy and emissions regulations start to kick in next year.