Aluminium Wheels Becoming Standard
The enthusiasm for aluminium wheels is diminishing. The golden years – mainly in the Eighties – of light alloy wheel are over – for the OE as well as in the aftermarket.Yet European original equipment demand for aluminium wheels is still growing.
Year on year, by around about one million pieces. However, we have to accept that new materials and methods of production can make steel wheels as light as aluminium wheels. If the suppliers can make progress in styling and the car makers are forced to make smaller and middle class vehicles cheaper there might be a turnaround in the current trend.
Some companies are in trouble. Even the world’s biggest wheel manufacturer Hayes Lemmerz in America had to be rescued under Chapter 11. On the other hand, there are success stories from companies like Superior in North America or Borbet in Europe.
Companies like BBS or OZ are still doing good business because they are not interested in volume but rather in selling exclusive (and expensive) wheels. The middle-price sector has been absorbed by the low-priced segment of high volume companies. The flame of the aluminium wheel business flickers weaker and weaker.