Wheels. Rims. They're one of the most defining features of a car's look. But the most important aspects of your wheels go far beyond aesthetics. They play a key role in ride quality, alignment, handling, braking, and acceleration.
To get the full story on wheels, we spoke with Jakin Wilson, Development Engineering Manager, and Alberto Echazabal, Product Development Engineer. These are two key people responsible for the wheels you see on the current TRD vehicles.
Making a new wheel is no small task.
"It starts once the vehicle platform is fixed, because the gross vehicle weight has a direct impact on wheel design," Jakin explains. "From there, the design process takes weeks, if not months. We're always looking for performance improvements: lighter, wider, better offset, improved brake cooling."
An extensive series of FEA (finite element analysis) computer simulations are run to test strain, loads, and durability. Then physical tooling begins, prototypes get made, and physical testing takes place.
Add on environmental testing for paint and finishes… and you're looking at over a year of development for one new wheel design.
Why can't you just reuse the same wheel design over and over again?
"All elements of wheel design relate to design targets. Geometry of vehicles are different, which has an effect on performance and safety. New technologies come along. A truck needs a different type of wheel than a sedan. Plus, each design has to reflect the style of that vehicle. There are so many variables," explained Alberto.
What is the criteria they have to balance?
Bonus: TRD wheels meet all US and Canadian FMVSS 110 requirements for rapid air-loss. If you get a flat, the tire won't come off the wheel, giving you extra control in a potentially dangerous moment.
For this year's wheels, TRD turned to industry titan, BBS. One of the most iconic wheelmakers in the world, BBS is zealous in their focus on craftmanship.
Part of what sets them apart is their unique manufacturing process. BBS uses a "net closed die-forged" wheel instead of a single-forge process. Don't know what that means? Jakin does.
"In a single-forge process, you heat metal and press it once. But with BBS's process, they use multiple sets of massive dies. Each set moves the grain in the aluminum into shape in progressive stages. The end result is a wheel that is stronger than any other process and allows for more detail without compromising integrity."
If that's not enough, every TRD forged BBS wheel is hand-polished and precisely manufactured in Japan.
Before you roll off the lot with your 18" beauties tearing up asphalt, Toyota makes sure they're the real deal.
The TRD line is designed for people who want the best driving experience. As Jakin puts it, "TRD stands for three things: performance, authenticity, exclusivity." These wheels, and the vehicles they're on, get sent onto test tracks and into the desert to make sure they deliver on every promise TRD makes. That is far beyond what any after-market wheel maker could deliver.
As we always say: TRD accessories aren't just made to fit your truck. They're made for your truck. Right down to the wheels.