SEMA looks at trends in the custom wheel market
Excerpted from an article written by Steve Campbell at SEMA - the Specialty Equipment Market Association
According to Wayne Williams of Exsell Marketing “the trend in wheel designs is more of everything,” Williams said. “More larger-diameter wheels, more ‘stretch’ fitments, more smaller-diameter fitments and more finish options than ever before.” Among the newer material choices are carbon-fiber designs, which are lightweight but more expensive than traditional materials.
A Weld Forged GT-S Series 10 forged 2- piece wheel
“Material science is a very dynamic side of the industry,” said Chris Bovis, vice president of marketing for Weld. “There are a number of new materials with properties tailored specifically for vehicle performance needs. Through material development, you will see highly tuned wheels for specific market segments Our own HiPer Technology off-road wheel brand uses super-structural carbon fiber to absorb impacts, soaking up the bumps and impacts of off-road racing.”
Flow forming has also gained traction, creating a middle ground in manufacturing between lower-cost cast wheels and more expensive forged wheels. Carl Robinson, wheel product manager for Mickey Thompson Performance Tires & Wheels, said that flow-forming wheel technology allows for reduced raw material input and improved metallurgical properties by providing better grain alignment in the base metal. “The end result is a lighter and stronger wheel product that partially bridges the gap between cast and forged wheel technology,” he said. “While similar to ‘spinning,’ the CNC machinery and tooling advances have made this technology more applicable in recent years.”
A Forgestar Wheels custom directional concave F10D monoblock rotary forged wheel with custom powder coating
Colored wheels also offer consumers a vast array of alternatives to standard equipment, and colorization is one of the hottest trends in the segment. Dave Johnson is president of Icon Media Inc., which is the founder of the iConfigurator visualization software that allows consumers to see what a specific tire and wheel package would look like on a specific vehicle.