In a press release issued yesterday from Cadillac, the new 2022 Cadillac CT4-V and CT5-V Blackwing models will introduce the first use of magnesium wheels to the brand.
According to the release, the magnesium wheels will help reduce unsprung weight and improve the ride and handling characteristics.
This got me thinking: could we see magnesium wheels come to future high performance Corvettes such as the C8 Corvette Z06 and “E-Ray”?
Magnesium vs Carbon Fiber Wheels
Rumors have been floating around for a while now that the next high performance Corvette we see after the Stingray could utilize carbon fiber wheels, and it’s not like we haven’t seen them offered as an option on much more expensive exotic supercars.
While carbon fiber wheels definitely have their advantage, they’re more expensive and slightly heavier than magnesium wheels.
A year ago, an article appeared in the Engineer Live publication comparing magnesium wheels to carbon fiber wheels for use in racing.
The article cited the advancements made in magnesium wheel technology from a company called “Litespeed Racing”:
The company has developed a magnesium alloy wheel construction that stands to rival carbon fibre offerings. Development research has uncovered these alloys trend towards one to two pounds lighter, are more affordable, and allow for more design offerings than traditional carbon fibre wheels of similar size.
Long considered the holy grail of lightweight wheel manufacturing, carbon fibre is not without its limitations. Litespeed Racing’s research concluded that carbon fibre wheels are much more expensive and tend to fall short in terms of lightweight expectations.
The article goes on to say that through their research, Litespeed Racing found that wheels made from magnesium alloy variants produced a better ride quality due to the nature of the magnesium alloy’s ability to dampen vibration.
This is interesting because historically, magnesium wheels were not known for their strength and were susceptible to corrosion from acid rain and road salt. While they were great when used for track racing applications, they were really not well suited for the everyday, real world driving environment.
I can’t even imagine how long a set of these would last on the roads of Detroit, Michigan in the winter!
Hopefully, with nearly 20 years of automotive technology advancement, the drawbacks of magnesium wheels have been properly addressed.
The Cadillac – Corvette Connection
According to the Cadillac press release this morning, the optional forged magnesium alloy wheels on the upcoming Blackwing models will help reduce the unsprung weight of the vehicles, while improving ride and handling, and the overall driving experience.
Five-spoke magnesium wheels from Speedline in Italy were available as an option on the 1998 – 2004 C5 Corvette. The price for those wheels started at $3,000 in 1998 and dropped to $1,500 by the time 2004 rolled around.
It’s no secret that throughout the history of Cadillac and Corvette, GM has used both platforms to test ground breaking automotive technology in a production environment.
If a new technology debuted on Corvette, it usually wasn’t long after that a form of that technology would appear in a future Cadillac and vice versa.
If Cadillac is going to be bringing magnesium alloy wheels to its high performance V-Series Caddys, is it possible we could see magnesium alloy wheels make a return to high performance Corvettes in the future?
Only time will tell. What are your thoughts?
For now the official press release from Cadillac announcing the magnesium wheels for the upcoming high performance Cadillac models:
Cadillac V-Series Blackwing Previews Exclusive Magnesium Wheels to Enhance Ride and Handling
DETROIT – Today, Cadillac unveiled one of the first uncamouflaged exterior images of its V-Series Blackwing vehicles, showcasing the cars’ exclusive magnesium wheels. The 2022 CT4-V Blackwing and CT5-V Blackwing will be the only GM products to offer magnesium wheels in the near future.
Inspired by the championship-winning Cadillac DPi-V.R race car, the optional forged magnesium alloy wheels will help reduce the unsprung weight of the vehicle, improving ride and handling, and the overall driving experience.
Five Fast Facts About Magnesium
1. Magnesium has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of all commonly available metals1.
2. Magnesium wheels absorb road vibration and transform it into heat, which is dissipated1.
3. Magnesium was first discovered in 1755 and is the eighth most abundant element in the Earth’s crust2.
4. Formula 1, MotoGP and World Endurance Championship teams use forged magnesium wheels to improve acceleration times and enhance safety1.
5. Magnesium is a mineral needed by every cell in the human body3.
The 2022 CT4-V Blackwing and CT5-V Blackwing will be available4 starting summer 2021. Visit the V-Series Blackwing future vehicles page on Cadillac.com to sign up for future product updates.
1 According to MagnesiumWheels.com
2 According to The Royal Science of Chemistry
3 According to the National Institutes of Health
4V-Series Blackwing models will have limited availability
Source: Cadillac V-Net