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18/05/2020
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Light, larger, with smaller sections but still approved. The Italian wheel sector focuses on production quality to accompany the evolution of our vehicles with safe, efficient and, of course, stylish products

Nicoletta Ferrini

It's round and it turns. Everybody knows that. However, there is much more than meets the eye when we talk about wheels. An essential complement to mobility, often considered as a synonym, wheels are essential also in guaranteeing a measure of safety. They are as much a part of the car as shoes are a part of a person’s attire, providing a touch of class and elegance.

Wheels are not all the same. A first distinction concerns their intended use: i.e. for M1 (passenger transport) or N1 (goods transport) approved vehicles. They also differ in terms of production material. Those intended for the consumer market are made of aluminium alloy or steel/iron. In the racing world, other solutions involve the use of magnesium or carbon fibres, able to guarantee higher performance but far too expensive for the mass market. Aluminium wheels are the result of applying cutting-edge technology in order to reduce weight and friction, thus obtaining greater performance and fuel efficiency. Alloy wheels for road use can also be made of cast or forged aluminium. The latter, thanks to a reduction in suspended masses, are lighter and benefit the overall performance of a vehicle. The cost, however, is decidedly higher than the cast aluminium version. With iron wheels, you give up something in terms of performance, consumption and aesthetics, but your wallet will thank you. Simple and economical, iron represents a popular choice for both original equipment (OEM) and replacement. On the market, however, alloy wheels rule: in Italy, in 2019, a good half-a-million aluminium wheels were sold in the aftermarket, twice as many as iron/steel wheels. The replacement segment displays a similar trend at European level. "The aftermarket is the result of the need to have a second set of complete wheels in countries with specific regulations on winter tires. Furthermore, there is also an interesting market in the Euro Mediterranean area where replacements follows a logic of aesthetic and performance", says Guglielmo Bertolinelli, vice president of Assoruote, association that brings together some of the leading Italian manufacturers of alloy wheels. The association was born about twelve years ago when, as Bertolinelli explains, the need for specific type approvals loomed on the horizon: "a key issue of which, along with other associations, we have served as “mouthpiece” before the institutions".

As of October 1, 2015, only approved wheels can circulate in Italy. Failure to abide by the rules will result in severe penalties for motorists (driving bans, vehicle stoppage and fines from 400 euro and upwards). There are two type approvals recognized in Italy: UN/ECE 124 or NAD. The first is a European type approval and indicates that the wheel has characteristics in line with those indicated by the manufacturer for original equipment. The Italian NAD approval, instead, follows the Ministerial Decree n° 20. “Special" NAD-approved wheels may have different sizes from the original and therefore allow one to "customize" a vehicle without compromising safety. The process to obtain NAD type approval, though, is far from easy. However, complexity is a prerequisite for quality. The product is initially tested at a Dekra or TÜV centre and the results are sent to the German KBA approval body, which issues an initial approval. In Italy, the document is accompanied by further tests at accredited vehicle testing centres. At the end of the process, the Motorizzazione Civile (MOT) issues a unified NAD code for the product. 

When fitting a wheel indicated in the registration certificate, it is sufficient to keep the installer's declaration of correct fitting and the certificate of conformity of the wheel on board the vehicle. If, on the other hand, the idea is to fit a NAD certified wheel for your model, but with a tire size not indicated in the vehicle’s registration certificate, the Motorisation must be contacted for further inspections and the needed changes to the documents. The Approval is a tool that guarantees quality and safety to the driver and testifies the competitiveness and professionalism of a sector of recognized excellence. "Along with Germany, our production represents an international excellence - confirms Bertolinelli - and our companies are quickly evolving alongside the entire automotive industry. We follow a sector that is moving towards electric and hybrid mobility and aims to reduce consumption. The new frontier is represented by wheels with larger diameters and narrower sections to balance better performance with higher energy efficiency".

 

Alcar (Aez-Dotz)

Tires, wheels and TPMS: the perfect triad on which the Alcar Group focuses its technical expertise. Quality and safety, however, do not preclude style. Dotz Suzuka is the perfect design-meets-performance example. Available in glossy black the Suzuka comes in five sizes ranging from 18 to 20 inches, and offers many mounting possibilities.

Developed for the city cars, such as the FIAT 500, Opel Corsa, Ford Fiesta and Fiesta ST, Renault Clio, Citroen C3 and DS3, Dotz LimeRock is available as 4-lug version, in sizes 6,5x16 inch and 7x17 inch with ECE applications and front polished gunmetal finishes.

A star and double radius design characterizes Dotz Interlagos. The wheel is available polished or front polished gunmetal in its most popular sizes, from 17 to 19 inches for VW Polo, Golf and Jetta, Audi A1 and A3, Skoda Oktavia, Seat Leon and Toledo. Dotz 4x4 has finally developed a new off-road steel wheel with a bead-lock design. Available in size 7.5x18 including VTA certification, Dotz Modular Beadlock is perfect for models such as Suzuki Jimny, Mercedes X-Class, Renault Alaskan or Nissan Navara NP 300.

 

Alkatec

The Alkatec Group develops and sells aftermarket and OE alloy wheels for cars that combine design and high levels of engineering. Under the Tekno brand, a historical name in the light alloy wheel sector, the company offers a wide range of products with diameters ranging from 16 to 22 inches and different colour schemes. Added to these we find also the Mille Miglia light alloy wheels. The crown jewel of the range is the new MME-1, created to equip the newest electric and hybrid cars. The batteries in these types of vehicles are particularly heavy. For this reason, Alkatec MME-1 has a high load index, also compatible with new electric SUVs. The space for the brake callipers has also been increased in order to accommodate even the largest and most powerful braking systems. The design of the MME-1 stems from the unmistakable Italian 1000 Miglia style. MME-1 is available in seven different sizes (7.5x17, 7.5x18, 8.0x18, 7.5x19, 8.0x19, 8.5x19, 9.0x20) and two colour finishes (black polished and dark anthracite high gloss).

 

Arcasting

Combining style and quality trends is the path taken by one of the leading wheel manufacturers. In this sense, and among the latest proposals of the Arcasting brand, products such as Gladio, Enea, Ary and Mammut stand out. Already appreciated for its multi-spokes style and made with low-pressure technology, Gladio is available ranging from 18 to 21 inches in glossy anthracite, diamond black and the new glossy black and black diamond edge finishes. Still using low pressure technology, the new Enea is already available in 19 and 20 inch sizes (and later 18, 21 and 22), in diamond black, matt diamond anthracite, silver or glossy black. A simple design, on the other hand, characterizes Ary, an alloy rim that can be purchased in sizes 8.0x19 and 9.0x19, and soon also 20 and 22 inches and in three finishes (silver, glossy black and black diamond edge). Created to meet the needs of vehicles with heavy loads, Mammut is available in sizes 16, 17, 18 and 20 inches, with 5 spokes for the 5 lugs or 6 spokes for the 6 lugs. The finishes include chrome, glossy black and diamond black.

 

AVUS Racing

The range of AVUS Racing alloy wheels includes solutions able to satisfy different tastes. Dedicated to the Mercedes brand, the AC-515 can be fitted to other cars too, as long as they come with a 5x112 connection. AC-518 offers an elaborate design thanks to the 5 asymmetrical double spokes. AC-M07 is one of the company's "must-have": The "turbine" effect of the 14 symmetrical spokes is accentuated by the groove on each individual spoke. AC 518 and AC-M07 are both designed for Mercedes as OE.

Now available in the Black version, the AC-MB5 is inspired by the BMW style. It is available for a number of vehicles in the German manufacturer’s range, including older models, as well as for Audi and VW. The AF16 features 5 square double spokes. Designed for Audi, it can adapt to cars of many other brands. The AF18 too, draws its inspiration from the Audi world. From 2020, in addition to the Black Polished finish, this rim is also available in a Black and Bronze Edition. Finally, AF19 aims to satisfy a variety of tastes. It is compatible with Audi in glossy finishes (Anthracite, Black and Hyper Silver), BMW in diamond finishes (Black Polished and Anthracite Polished) and Mercedes in Black Polished Lip.

 

Brock & RC

Efficient technologies, innovative production cycles and advanced quality are the ingredients behind Brock & RC's production, which includes dozens of alloy wheels available in diameters from 14 to 22 inches and multiple colour variations. These include the latest Brock B32, an alloy wheel compatible with the new Porsche 911 (992) and Mercedes GT AMG, and Brock B40 designed for vehicles such as Porsche Cayenne (9YA), Mercedes GLE (167 / H1GLE) and Hyundai I30N. For the Cayenne, in particular, B40 is available in size 9.0 × 20 for the front axle and 10.5 × 20 for the rear axle with corresponding ABE and ECE. For the GLE, the combination Brock B40 in 9.0 × 20 and Brock B32 in 8.5 × 20 is possible. B37 in 9.0 × 20 is Brock & RC’s proposal for the Audi SQ8. For Mercedes A35 AMG, the RC-Design RC32 in sizes 7.5 × 18 and 8.0 × 19 and RC-Design RCD17 in 8.0 × 18 with corresponding ECE and ABE are available.

 

G.M.P. Italia

A vast collection to cater for endless stylistic combinations: the range of G.M.P. Italia alloy wheels includes over twenty models in different sizes and finishes. One of the latest arrivals is Matisse, an alloy wheel dedicated to Ford and Renault owners. Available with a diameter from 17 to 19 inches and in three colours (diamond black, glossy black, matt diamond anthracite). Four sizes (from 17 to 20 inches) and as many colours (diamond and glossy black, matt anthracite, silver) characterize the Fasten line, a wheel inspired by the Mercedes brand. Sparta, instead, is a wheel designed for the BMW SUV world with a diameter from 20 to 22 inches and three available colours (diamond, glossy black and matt anthracite). Also inspired by BMW is Swan, proposed with diameters ranging from 17 to 20 inches and five different colour options: diamond black, glossy black, glossy anthracite, silver and "Dark Touch". The latter’s dark glossy diamond effect - also available for Enigma (dedicated to Audi) - is the result of innovative painting technique.

 

MAK

Wheels designed for specific brands play an increasingly central role in the national market. In order to meet the wishes of a growing number of consumers, MAK has chosen to expand its range of alloy wheels tailor-made for a number of cars, i.e. perfectly compatible with the original bolts and hubcaps, as well as with the style of the respective brands.

Eleven new products were recently introduced by the Brescia-based company in 2020: MAK Evo - Evo D (Mercedes), MAK Fabrik - Fabrik D (BMW), MAK Lario (Alfa Romeo), MAK Leipzig - Leipzig D (Porsche), MAK Main (VW), MAK Mark (BMW), MAK Monaco - Monaco D (Porsche), MAK Rapp - Rapp D (BMW) and MAK Union (Audi). In addition, and exclusively for Jeep and Tesla, we find MAK Liberty and MAK Voltage. All of them the product of expert designers with whom MAK has a long-standing collaboration and made following the highest quality and safety standards, in order to achieve NAD type approval for the Italian market and TUV/KBA for Europe.

 

MC Wheels

MC Wheels is an internationally acclaimed Italian brand. The Treviso-based company sells 80% of its "after-market" production abroad. The MC Wheels range includes several models available in different colours and sizes for several premium car brands. Olympia is dedicated to SUVs, generally found on a BMW X, but also very appreciated for the VW T6. It is available in sizes 10x20, 11x20 and 9x19. On the other hand, the new Nelson and Five, specifically designed for Audi, are available in 19 and 18 inch diameter respectively. In the 17 inch bracket we find Mistral, very popular with Mini owners. For Mercedes drivers, MC Wheels developed Circuit, which comes in sizes 7.5x18, 8x18 and 8.5x18. The latest addition to the MC Wheels family, but already a top-of-the-range model is Konzert. Designed to equip BMW cars and, in particular, very popular with owners of the Series 1 vehicles, comes in sizes 8x18, 9x18, 8x19 and 9x19. All MC Wheels are ECE R-124 approved and can accommodate the original hubcap.

 

Momo

For over fifty years synonymous with design and high performance, Momo mixes tradition and innovation in its production. In 2020, the range of alloy wheels of the Italian brand will expand with an important innovation. Avenger is the new multi-spoke design, a five-pointed diamond pattern that stands out for its geometric design in matt black finish that gives the wheel a dynamic appearance. Avenger is already available in size 8.0x18”.

The RF-01, instead, confirms itself as the brand’s benchmark, NAD approved for Italy. Made thanks to "Rotary Forming" technology, able to guarantee high structural resistance and a 20% reduced weight, compared to a traditional wheel, the RF-01 is characterized by a split-spoke design, enhanced by the grooves that run along the entire rim perimeter. This gives the structure an agile and slender look that underlines the sporty and dynamic character of the RF-01. The rim is available in eight sizes from 19 to 20 inches and three finishes (stardust glossy black, titan-ice and golden bronze). 

 

MSW

MSW is an OZ brand created to offer the best value for money. New to the brand in 2020 is MSW 50, "design inspired" alloy wheel: 20 crisscrossed spokes give life to an aggressive and captivating game of shapes. MSW 50 is suitable for medium and large sedans and crossovers. MSW 50 is available in diameters ranging from 18 to 21 inches and in matt gun metal, full polished and gloss black finishes.

MSW 48, instead, is the new alloy wheel for vans and light trucks and extends its range with new sizes 6.5 x 16 and 7 x 17 in addition to the already available 6.5 x 17. MSW 48 VAN proposes in fact a very successful design intended for SUVs and crossovers, strengthening the central part of the wheel and partly also the spokes, making it able to support a maximum weight of 1,350 kg per wheel. 

 

 

 

OZ Racing

The name already testifies about its competitive legacy. Lightweight, high performance and 100% "made in Italy", OZ Racing alloy wheels boast technological contents borrowed from the world of racing. Born from the experience in the legendary Paris-Dakar the new OZ Rally Raid, original alloy wheel whose design was inspired by some of the most demanding raids. OZ Rally Raid is dedicated to off-road, 4x4s, van and pick-ups. Rally Raid wheels are designed to last. The outer edge of the rim has been reinforced and can be easily installed on very heavy vehicles, up to 1,200 kg max load. OZ Rally Raid is available in 5 and 6 lugs, in 8 x 17" and 8.5 x 18" matt black and bronze gloss finishes. The flagship of the brand, Superforgiata CL (OZ Atelier Forged) is an icon for "racing" style enthusiasts. In this case the choice is between two sizes, 20 or 21 inches, and three colours (racing grey, matt black, ceramic polished).

 

Sparco wheels

Sparco Wheels stems from the meeting of two highly recognizable names in the world of motorsport: OZ and Sparco. Among the latest efforts of the company, we find Dakar, the first Sparco model designed for the off-road market. Sparco Dakar, in its special application for the Suzuki Jimny, is available in two finishes, matt black lip polished and matt dark grey lip polished, and in sizes 5.5 x 16 - 5x139.7. The special Jimny application by Sparco is also OE Cap Ready, i.e. designed to accommodate the original Suzuki hubcap. Sparco FF1, instead, is a technical and light alloy rim, as well as the first Sparco wheel made using the company’s flow-forming technique that makes wheels even lighter, but still durable. Designed for compact sports vehicles, such as the Mazda MX5 "Miata", Sparco FF1 is available in gloss black finish and in two diameters with rim width 7x15", 8x15", 9x15", 7x17", 8x17" and 8.5x17".

 

Spath

Spath Wheels boasts over 20 years of experience in the design and construction of light alloy wheels for cars, vans, SUVs, off-road vehicles and trailers. With a wide range of type-approved wheels ranging from 17 to 24 inches built with EH2, EH2+ HUMP profile, suitable to be fitted on run-flat tires, Spath offers a high quality level and a product totally made in Italy, with a program that covers also niche applications. The brand's latest innovation is the SP 48, a wheel designed in two different sizes with two different profiles - slightly concave for the front axle and more so for the rear axle - for a distinctive look. Different finishes include the total black gloss colour SP 48 which confers an aggressive look, while the diamond finish on the spokes make this model elegant and suitable for prestige cars. SP 48 is available in sizes from 18 to 22 inches.

 

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