Do you own a Bentley Bentayga and love carbon-fibre? The British luxury marque has unveiled a 22-inch carbon-fibre wheel – the largest wheel made of the material – for its SUV, that offers a weight saving of six kg per wheel in unsprung mass compared to aluminium.

Developed with composites manufacturer Bucci Composites, the 22-inch carbon-fibre wheel for the Bentayga is the first-ever carbon-fibre wheel to pass all tests in the TÜV (Technischer Überwachungsverei – Technical Inspection Association) standards, which includes biaxial stress testing, radial and lateral impact testing for the simulation of potholes and cobblestones, tyre overpressure as well as excessive torque tests beyond the permitted limits.

Concerns of carbon-fibre wheels shattering upon severe impact appear not to be an issue with the units made for the Bentayga, as Bentley says the wheels have been demonstrated to be “extremely safe” in light of the TUV impact test.

Where a severe impact would crack or shatter an aluminium wheel and cause an explosive collapse, the carbon-fibre item allows a slow deflation of the tyre enabled by the layering of the fibre weaves, thus allowing the vehicle to come to a safe and controlled stop, says Bentley.

In addition to the ride and handling benefits of offering reduced unsprung mass, Bentley says these carbon-fibre wheels also provide a more stable and consistent steering platform; by comparision, a forged aluminium rim can lose up to one degree of camber due to wheel flex, it says.

The reduced bending also allows greater tyre stability and a more consistent contact patch, thus improving roadholding as well. For the completion of its development and final sign-off, the carbon-fibre wheel was run along the famous European performance testing ground that is the Nurburgring Nordschleife.

A key innovation in the manufacturing process of the Bentayga’s carbon-fibre wheel is in the use of patented concepts along with the application of high-pressure resin transfer moulding (RTM). Here, the process first involves the carbon-fibre cloth being cut into the desired shapes, after which the weave segments are stacked, heated and draped into a mould to make three-dimensional preforms.

These are then collated and arranged into a larger mould, and then resin and hardner are injected. The piece is then removed from the mould after curing at temperature, and its surfaces are machined to the correct finish before polishing, which finally yields the complete wheel.

The 22-inch carbon-fibre wheel joins a group of carbon-fibre components which are already available for the Bentayga, including those part of the Styling Specification which is comprised of a carbon-fibre front splitter, sill extensions and rear diffuser, along with high-gloss carbon-fibre veneer parts for the interior. The new carbon-fibre wheel for the Bentayga will be available to order from late 2021, says Bentley.

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