Toyota Wheels May Get Smaller: Direct Moped Comparison and Toyota Automobile Motor Insurance

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Toyota Wheels May Get Smaller

2009 Toyota Venza

Big wheels keep on turnin’ at the auto industry’s design studios, which prefer larger rims and low-profile tires that accentuate a car’s stance and power. car buyers like them, too, and 18 and 19-inch rims - once the province only of customizers - are now common factory equipment on family sedans and crossovers. But fresh concerns about the weight and fuel-economy toll of big wheels may threaten the recent upward growth of wheels, says one of Toyota’s chief designers.

Kevin Hunter, director of Toyota’s CALTY Design Research Center in Newport Beach, California, says wheel size is becoming a “battleground” as designers and marketers push for larger wheels but engineers look for ways to cut mass and improve fuel economy. A large rim, such as the 20-inch wheel/tire package available on the new Toyota Venza crossover, can weigh up to 60 pounds. And, because it’s rotational mass rather than part of the car body’s inert mass, wheel/tire heaviness creates a disproportionate drag on fuel economy. Cut five pounds from one wheel/tire combo by shrinking the rim size an inch or two, and you save 20 pounds per vehicle, a huge amount to an engineer tasked with picking through every vehicle design for spare ounces. And you may be able to shrink the brakes as well. It could all add up to an additional 1 to 2 mpg on the window sticker, an important gain from an easy, no-cost fix - the best kind for an industry grappling with new, tougher fuel economy standards.

“We are now getting very difficult mass targets for wheels and tires,” says Hunter. “I’m not going to say that we always achieve them, because we have to balance the weight with the style and what the market wants, but it’s a challenge that we’re facing now.” Tricks such as shaving spare millimeters out of wheel spokes and using narrower tires can help a designer keep the large rim diameter he or she needs to carry a design (the Venza would look like a soap bar on rollerskates without its large wheels), but the wheels still must pass durability and safety tests. Plus, “there are other places we can cut mass,” says Hunter. “For example, we’re using thinner seat frames.”

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Toyota Wheels May Get Smaller
Toyota Wheels May Get Smaller

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Toyota Automobile Motor Insurance

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