Australian carbon-fiber wheel supplier Carbon Revolution plans to open a North American factory capable of producing hundreds of thousands of wheels annually in the coming years.
"We're getting ourselves prepared for a facility that will be in North America, quite possibly Mexico, that can service our North American customers and customers in other parts of the world," CEO Jake Dingle told Automotive News. "We are looking at some locations at the moment, and some potential partnerships as well, which would support a fairly rapid" ramp-up.
Dingle did not specify the timetable for selecting a plant location but said the company wants it to be open in the next few years.
Former General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz is on the Carbon Revolution board.
The company seeks to expand its customer base into more mainstream vehicle programs from the relatively niche performance vehicles where its wheels are generally seen today. Carbon Revolution said its sales backlog has reached about $730 million, more than double what it was in October 2022, with about half of those sales slated for electric models.
The supplier sees its lightweight, carbon-fiber composite wheels catching on with automakers looking to shed pounds from heavy electric vehicles as well as the large pickups, SUVs and crossovers popular in North America.
"North America is leading the pack" for the company's business, Dingle said. "The adoption of this technology, particularly for larger pickups and SUVs, is driving our backlog."
Carbon Revolution shares began trading on the Nasdaq on Nov. 3 through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company. The manufacturer supplies wheels to automakers including Ford, GM, Renault, Ferrari and JLR. The company says its wheels can weigh up to about half of what comparable traditional aluminum wheels weigh and can boost an EV's range 5 to 10 percent.
It currently produces wheels at a plant in Australia, which Dingle called a "pilot facility" capable of producing around 70,000 wheels a year. Dingle said its manufacturing process is highly automated, as its North American plant would be.
The company has designed its products and factory line to scale up quickly when needed, Dingle said.
"We had the view that everything we did would lead us to a high-volume, large-scale manufacturing capability," he said. "One of the key decision criteria always has been that we must be able to automate and must be able to scale up. We avoid any aspect of manufacturing that would strain that scale-up."