GM Design Chief: We’re Headed Towards 24-, 26-Inch Wheels33
At this year’s SEMA Show in Las Vegas, we got a chance to catch up with President and CEO of Brembo North America, Dan Sandberg. We spoke with Sandberg about a number of things (more on that later), including his podcast, Brembo Red, which hosted GM design chief Michael Simcoe back in September. During the podcast, Sandberg and Simcoe discussed the design of the “corners” of the vehicle – the wheels and brakes. One of the more intriguing topics is the move towards larger wheels.
Sandberg discussed the importance of wheel design with regard to consumer perception of a vehicle, noting that the wheels are some of the most attention-grabbing features in terms of aesthetics. Prior to Brembo, Sandberg was with Maxion wheels, so the importance of a good-looking wheel package isn’t lost on him.
Simcoe agrees, saying “any designer you’ll talk to will talk about how to make a vehicle look good and lower, longer, wider. And you add to that large-diameter wheel and tire.”
“Where we are today, an 18-inch wheel is a small wheel,” Simcoe added.
Later, Simcoe indicated that the future of wheel design, and naturally GM design as well, will be bigger and bigger – upwards of 24- and 26-inch wheels, in fact.
“We’re headed toward 24- and 26-inch wheels,” the head of GM design said.
Sandberg also asked Simcoe about the look of the wheel itself, and whether he thought the future was with in open designs, or a more closed design.
“The wheel style will be styled to suit the vehicle itself, so pretty much anything goes. Clearly as we brand the vehicles, we style the wheels too,” Simcoe said.
The GM design chief also talked about mating wheel style with brakes, mentioning how Brembo has worked with The General in colors and styling of the calipers. Simcoe mentioned that brakes “used to be just a functional item,” but are now part of the overall aesthetic of a vehicle.
To note, Brembo has provided braking components for a number of high-performance GM vehicles in the past. Some of the most recent examples include the new 2020 Corvette C8, which offers Black, Bright Red, Edge Red and Yellow calipers. Other examples include the Cadillac CT5 and CT4 in the Sport and V trim levels, which offer Red, Blue, and Black calipers from Brembo. Meanwhile, the Cadillac CTS-V offered a yellow brake appearance package, while the current line of GM full-size SUVs on the K2 platform (Tahoe/Suburban, Yukon/Yukon XL and Escalade/Escalade ESV) offer an optional high-performance brake package from Brembo with red calipers.
Do you think bigger is better with regard to wheel sizing? Are you a fan of stylized brake designs? Is this the direction in which GM design should be headed? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section, and don’t forget to subscribe to GM Authority for around-the-clock GM news coverage.
Source: Brembo Red
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Respectfully, I would think the interior issues (perceived or real) are the top issues they’re addressing in a timely matter.
Sounds like another example of dog-lick engineering to me.
There’s another aspect that is not being mentioned here: Platform sharing and Federal safety regulations have a great impact on vehicle exterior design. Look at any car from the late 80’s even until early 2000’s and the proportions have significantly changed. Today’s Hyundai Elantra, Honda Civic,… dwarfs a back in the day mid size Ford Taurus. To downplay how vehicles have grown in proportion, manufacturers have resorted to using plastic inserts and vents in bumpers, bigger light covers, body contouring and more.
So for 24″-26″ inch wheels to become available on cars is more so out of necessity because continuously growing vehicle exteriors will look oversized riding on undersized wheels.
A 1959 Oldsmobile looked just fine on 15 inch wheels. As for all the slots, vents, and other geegaws, look at the profile of a 1963 Pontiac Grand Peix, or, a 1968 Plymouth 2-door hard top. Very little in the way of trim or other such things. Just simple slab sides, and they looked great.
In context with this being a GM centered site: the series of Chevy and GMC trucks and SUVs that included the 1992 model year were clean, simple designs that still look good.
Simplicity can sometimes speak more.
It takes a trained eye to see how today’s vehicles’ have grown in dimensions and how the much bigger bumpers and body panels need the trim (fake vents, additional lighting elements, contouring,…) to offset and downplay their sheer size.
As long as the Tire Technology and tire comfort keep advancing I can totally see this happening.
What a total joke. There is only so much they can do with rim/tire size until there is zero rubber between the rims and the road. They can’t get much less rubber (sidewall) than they have now on a 19 or larger rim. My 18″ rims on my Encore barely have enough rubber there! So unless they are planning on lifting future vehicles higher off the road or make humongous wheel openings, how do they plan to do this?
A co-worker who is a huge fan of the larger rims just mangled one of his at the McDonald’s drive-through the other day. Now he’s looking at an expensive repair to the rim and maybe even a new tire. All because he had to have the 20″ rims on his S60 Volvo. Like I said, what a joke this entire huge rim thing is.
I have the 18” factory rims on my Pacifica (spare me the snide comments, please). Standard is 17 but they offer bigger than 20. I figure the 18 offers a slight increase in handling but not a hard ride, or damage from normal road hazards.
Where will a 26” wheel fit on a sedan, CUV, or SUV? I just can’t picture it.
So GM is going to build factory donk vehicles.
Current Electric cars are heavier and 20″ give needed grip.
I have a 2017 Silverado with factory 20” wheels, not something I would have installed on my own! There’s not enough side wall for a really comfortable ride. I would just as soon drive my very comfortable 1972 C/10 with 15” wheels and taller side wall tires!
Awful idea. Big wheels equal huge unsprung weight equals poor ride and difficult balance. They also intrude into interior volume and reduce usable space. This appears to be gm acting as an enabler for certain customers worst proclivities.
Ideally, wheels are sized to provide adequate clearance for the brakes beneath them. 16 inch wheels became common when gm finally started Installing decent brakes in the 90s. Today, we have absolute supercar carbon ceramic brakes that fit nicely in a 20 Inch wheel and warp space and time with their stopping power. If they want to put a 16″ rotor on an Escalade I can see reason for 22″+ but most cars have zero engineering reasons for the sizes suggested in this article.
If someone is thinking we need 28″ rim’s to provide space for electric hub motors, then we have an even bigger problem coming with unsprung weight. I think some folks might need to study up on Chapman’s principles with regard to the virtues of preventing the snowballing of mass.
Last thought- if I wanted big wheels, I certainly would not want them direct from gm. Inevitably their stock wheels look awful and cost a fortune . Yes the quality is very high but no one wants to buy ugly wheels once at the dealership then pay again for another set in the aftermarket to suit their taste. It’s a shame gm can’t just offer a selection of quality wheels with styles chosen from top tier aftermarket catalogs instead of their “unique” designs which have never provided the same premium appearance.
What next spinner hubcaps too? Gross. The fact you want to open the wheel so you can see all the RUST on the pads and rotors no thanks. Stage coach wheels on a vet no thanks. Kids today design crap. The new tiny camaro with mustang interior no arm rest or glove box….crap. GM doesnt know what the people want. Out of touch just like democrats.
Your comment is spot on except for your political comment. Republicans are the ones more concerned with profits than common sense. But, this isn’t a political debate site. It is a site about vehicles.
LOL for real! They are worried about making already grossly oversized tires even bigger? So we can see the rusting rotors even more! So we can slip and slide all over the highways even more than we already are! I just rode in a friend’s rental 2019 Impala Premier that had the optional 20″ rubber. It’s ride quality was borderline punishing and road noise was nearly double what my 2017 LT with 18″ tires was. And that was with the exact same tire pressures all around on both cars. Further proof how out of touch with reality this company still is!
Notice there is nothing whatsoever on how they are going to improve there lackluster interiors, fix there terrible packaging and option groups, the poor pricing structure and advertising or severe lack of product.
And the cost of tires will skyrocket…
Ugh! Bigger wheels? Seriously? Less rubber, harsher ride, stupid looks (OK, the last one is personal preference), more intrusion into interior space, less space in the engine compartment, more difficult to work inside the engine compartment, higher maintenance costs due to mechanics having more difficulty getting to engine compartment components… It’s just stupid.
Hey GM, And this goes for all American manufactures. Stop worrying about bling bling and start worrying about quality. All American vehicles suck ass in the quality department. That’s why Honda, Toyota, Kia etc.. is kicking American cars in the butt.. I forgot Ford and GM are getting out of the car business.
How disappointed am I.
And just where is it that Toy/Honda/Kia are “kicking American cars in the butt..”? You do realize that ALL car sales are down, even with those brands you mention. No, I do NOT agree with GM/Ford/Chrysler dropping all or nearly all of the sedans, but you can’t fault them for staying where the money is at. And do yourself a huge favor: Go to the nearest auto show and compare the trims/interiors of a Chevrolet or Buick or Ford to anything Honda or Toyota offers. My 2018 Buick Encore is 100x better than anything from them.
Car companies who use the KISS protocol will do much better at survival. KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID.
Right now they are throwing every option at each car to get more profits. But the reliability is going down. The simple things are turning repeat buyers from coming back.
I’d be surprised if I bought anything but a Lexus after 600k of driving GM cars I went 8 years and 190k on a Lexus GS400 with spending under $3000 in repairs AND maintenance for 8 years AND 190k miles. The bar for me has been set.
I totally agree with your Lexus comment here. I will be looking at a ES350 next.
If cars come with bigger wheels, will the become “Indy” Cars, with externally exposed wheels and tires? They will not fit inside a modern car fender! I prefer smaller wheels and taller tires (more sidewalls). But we must wait and see when the new Michelin Airless UPTIS wheels come out (the Chevy Bolt EV will offer them) which combine the tire with the wheel, only needed a thread covering that is replaceable. Read more here: https://michelinmedia.com/michelin-uptis/
Big brakes are awesome, big wheels are subjective, rubber band skinny tires for a daily driver is a pain in the frikin butt. Remember when a 50 series was “low profile” ? now there are 25 series. Great for the track, great for the show, not for the street !!! Someone once said: “Design must be functional, and functionality must be translated into visual aesthetics without any reliance on gimmicks that have to be explained.
Wheels and tires have always played a big role in terms of vehicle styling, and that’s not likely to change any time soon. That said, and maybe due to my being 50+, can anyone say they like the ride comfort of a vehicle with oversized rims and narrow sidewall tires? When you have to replace your first blown tire and you can’t even remember hitting the pothole that blew it out, you’ll start to think differently about 26″ rims w 2″ sidewalls…
The ride quality probably won’t suffer. I’m sure they’ll just make the suspension softer to accommodate the lower tire profile. There are plenty of cars that come with runflat tires which are basically a tire that doesn’t flex and the cars ride is still very comfortable.