The 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R won in the automotive category of the Popular Science “Best of What’s New” Awards for its carbon fiber composite wheels. The award is the latest of many for the Mustang, which also won the 2016 AutoGuide.com Reader’s Choice Car of the Year and the 2016 Road & Track Performance Car of the Year, among others.
Each year, Popular Science reviews thousands of new products and innovations and chooses the top 100 winners across 10 categories for inclusion in its annual Best of What’s New issue. To win, a product or technology must represent a significant step forward in its category.
“The Best of What’s New awards honor innovations that shape the future,” said Kevin Gray, Popular Science executive editor. “From life-saving technology to incredible space engineering to gadgets that are just breathtakingly cool, this is the best of what’s new.”
Last year, the wheels made Ford the first major automaker to mass-produce carbon fiber wheels as standard equipment for a production vehicle. Ford teamed up with Australian supplier Carbon Revolution to craft the wheels for Shelby GT350R Mustang. The wheels reduce rotational inertia by more than 40 percent, which positively impacts acceleration and braking performance. By using carbon fiber, Ford and Carbon Revolution were also able to cut the weight of each wheel nearly in half.
The two front wheels are insulated with a ceramic thermal barrier coating adapted from technology that is similar to what NASA used on the space shuttle. Each 19-inch carbon-fiber wheel weighs about 15 pounds less than an equivalently sized aluminum wheel, which Ford says improves the vehicle’s acceleration and handling.
Ford’s latest model with carbon fiber wheels is the Ford GT supercar, which will be available soon.