The demand for improved fuel economy in both cars and trucks has emphasized the need for lighter weight components. The application of high strength steel to wheels, both rim and disc, represents a significant opportunity for the automotive industry.
This paper discusses the Ranger HSLA wheel program that achieved a 9.7 lbs. per vehicle weight savings relative to a plain carbon steel wheel of the same design. It describes the Ranger wheel specifications, the material selection, the metallurgical considerations of applying HSLA to wheels, and HSLA arc and flash butt welding. The Ranger wheel design and the development of the manufacturing process is discussed, including design modifications to accommodate the lighter gage. The results demonstrate that wheels can be successfully manufactured from low sulfur 60XK HSLA steel in a conventional high volume process (stamped disc and rolled rim) to meet all wheel performance requirements and achieve a significant weight reduction.