Tech Talk

New heavy-duty wheel takes lightweight champion title

Weighing in at just 18kg, the new Ultra ONE wheel from Alcoa Wheels has been heralded the new Lightweight Champion in the world of commercial vehicle wheels.

With MagnaForce and Hub Bore Technology added, the new Ultra ONE wheel is now not only the lightest, but also the strongest heavy-duty truck and trailer wheel in the market.

Howmet Wheel Systems, the Australian Distributor of Alcoa Wheels, has been innovating aluminium wheels for over 75 years, with the invention of the first ever forged aluminium wheel back in 1948. The wheel debuted on a Mack truck.

Since then, this ‘not just another aluminium wheel’ has been helping fleet and trailer owners shed kilos for increased payload and fuel efficiency by setting a new industry standard as the world’s lightest heavy-duty truck and trailer wheel.

Taking Things to Another Level

It was in 2009 that a new wheel took the market by storm, having reached the lightest weight then of 20.36kg. The flagship Alcoa 22.5” x 8.25” wheel had been reduced by 4.5kg over 20 years.

Called the Classic (88367X) range, this was the latest wheel technology in the company’s committed work towards increasing wheel strength and load ratings.

“The lighter the wheels, the greater productivity for fleets. Each kilogram we can reduce for trucks hauling heavy loads across long distances every day helps them lower costs and move more goods,” said Ross Simmons, Managing Director, Howmet Wheel Systems Australia.

What makes the new Ultra ONE wheel so strong is the Howmet’s patented 6063 alloy – MagnaForce alloy exclusive to Alcoa Wheels. Up until 2013, aluminium wheels were forged using the industry standard 6061 alloy for commercial truck wheels – and had been since 1968.

For the first time in 45 years, MagnaForce alloy had become the strongest yet, offering a 17 per cent increase in strength over existing alloys.

What that meant for the industry was higher load rating on a lighter wheel with no compromise on strength. Only Alcoa Wheels are forged with MagnaForce alloy.

Heavy-duty without the heavy

With the new MagnaForce alloy onboard, the then lightest wheel, the Ultra ONE (ULTRAX) was released in 2014 (not to be confused with the NEW Ultra ONE (ULT39X). Taking almost 2kg out of the previous 20.36kg LvL ONE 22.5” wheel, this new 18.55kg wheel enabled fleets to lower truck weight, saving nearly 45kg per 18-wheeler versus the previous lightest option, and increasing payload and fuel economy while lowering maintenance costs.

The extra strength of the MagnaForce alloy meant the wheels could maintain a load of 3,360kg – that of the classic wheel – while lightening the truck and trailer.

Another new technology was added too, which would bring lowering maintenance into the wheel’s repertoire: Hub bore groove technology, designed to reduce metal-to-metal contact in the hub, minimising the surface area where corrosion can form by more than half (up to 64 per cent in fact); allowing for easier wheel removal during maintenance.

Not just another aluminium wheel

In order to meet carbon emission regulations at truck OEMs, fleets are switching to lighter-weight wheels more and more to offset the weight of technologies needed to remove air pollutants from diesel engine exhausts.

Lighter-weight, lower-maintenance wheels also help trucks improve fuel economy to help make up for rising fuel prices and move goods in a cleaner, more fuel-efficient way.

In addition to their lighter weight, Alcoa LvL ONE finished wheels are six times brighter than competitors’ wheels, giving them strong aesthetic appeal, and because they are corrosion resistant and do not require stripping and repainting, they lower operators’ maintenance and operating costs.

The 22.5” x 8.25” Ultra ONE wheel is available in Standard US 10-285 Fitment and can be finished in all Alcoa finish options: LvL ONE (premium finish on both sides), Polished, and Dura-Bright.

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