Car designers and engineers spend endless hours crafting body panels that give the right look and deliver the right kind of aero qualities to provide strong gas mileage figures, but the recent focus on efficiency, particularly among electric cars, means more attention than ever is being paid to wheel designs.
Over the last 20 years the car market’s obsession with pushing a performance image resulted in wheel spokes being made as thin as possible, both to reduce weight, and to give us a clearer look at the fancy colored brake calipers that often lurked behind them.
But recently we’ve seen a bigger emphasis on fuller spokes that reduce drag (or at least give the impression of doing so). While BMW’s M cars still proudly rock their expensive forged wheels, the company’s electric i models are more likely to be seen with disc-like rims designed to help them squeeze as many miles as possible from each kWh of battery energy.
The trouble is, disc-style wheels can make a car look a little leaden, or just a bit dull. Which could be why we’re seeing a new wave of EV wheel designs that feature fat, flat spokes, but decorated with bold strakes or vanes.
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The new Rolls Royce Spectre, the company’s first electric car, has wheels with a straked design (if that’s even the right term) and it’s far from the only one. The Cadillac Celestiq also has a similar style of wheel, and perhaps that’s not so surprising. Though the Celestiq is a modern lift back, much of its detailing, including on those wheels, is inspired by interwar and mid-century designs trends. That period just so happened to be a golden age for both brands, and a glamorous (for some people, anyway) period the pair would like us to think of nostalgically.
But Rolls and Cadillac aren’t alone in pushing this new style, or even the first to do it. Chinese-Swedish automaker Lynk & Co’s oddly named The Next Day concept showcased a set of straked wheels (where the strakes bridged the spokes) when it was unveiled this summer, Peugeot employs a similar motif on its electric e-208’s rims, Audi fits straked wheels to its Q4 e-tron, and you’ll also find something similar on Foxconn’s electric Model B compact SUV. Even Nissan’s tiny Sakura sort of gets in on the act, while Peugeot’s 408 (seen below) takes strakes to a whole new avant-garde level.
Are you a fan of this kind of wheel design or would you rather stick with slinky, skinny-spoke forged wheels? Leave a comment and let us know.