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Alcoa Wheels Introduces the Strongest and Lightest Heavy-Duty Truck Wheel

Learn about the new strongest and lightest heavy-duty truck wheel recently introduced by Alcoa Wheels, and how it can lower cost-per-mile for fleets.

Episode 170: Recently, we were at the Technology and Maintenance Council Annual Meeting in beautiful Orlando, Florida. The theme of the show was Electrifying Performance in Maintenance Management. While there we were able to talk to Alcoa Wheels about their new strongest and lightest heavy-duty truck wheel recently released.

My guest today is Nathalie Tessier, Vice President and General Manager for the America’s at Alcoa Wheels. 

Alcoa Wheels introduces the strongest and lightest heavy-duty truck wheel

Guest Website: AlcoaWheels.com

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Transcript of Episode:

Jamie Irvine:

You are listening to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. And this is the show where you get expert advice about heavy-duty parts that keeps trucks and trailers on the road longer while lowering cost-per-mile. We’re at the Technology and Maintenance Council Annual Meeting in beautiful Orlando Florida. It has been a great show and we’ve been talking about electrifying performance in maintenance management. My guest today is Nathalie Tessier, Vice President and General Manager for the Americas at Alcoa Wheels. Nathalie, welcome to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report.

Nathalie Tessier:

Thank you very much. Thank you for having me.

Jamie Irvine:

I’ve been anxious to have this interview and sit down in the media room here so that we could get away from the show for a few minutes and talk about some things related to not only the industry, but also your company. So what have you been sharing with fleets at TMC this week at the show?

Nathalie Tessier:

Great question. So I think this year we have been sharing a lot. I think it’s the first year where we have unveiled probably the largest number of portfolio additions that addresses really what, pain points from a fleet standpoint, mainly focused on light weighting aerodynamics. So we’ve announced the strongest and lightest 22 5, 8 1/4 heavy duty truck wheel in the whole world. It only weighs 36 pounds. And just to give you a perspective, its predecessor was weighing 39 pounds and four years ago, it’s I would say dinosaur predecessor was weighing like 45 pounds. So think about it, we took about nine pounds of that wheels in four years and it still boosts the same 7,400 load rating. So it’s really strong obviously, you know, backed by testing so on and so forth. But we’re very excited about this wheel. It obviously addresses one of the fleet pain points, which is, you know, fuel saving, carrying more loads, so on and so forth. So it’s, it’s a product that’s very tailored for fleets and owner operator that are weight sensitive.

Jamie Irvine:

Right. And you know, you think to yourself, it’s only a few pounds, like right, 39 to 36, it’s only three pounds, but it’s times 18 wheels, times how many trucks trailers do you own. And all of a sudden you’re fleetwide, you’re talking hundreds of pounds. Why is this so important for fleets right now, specifically in 2022?

Nathalie Tessier:

You know, it’s great question because we are seeing several trends, right? Where if you think about electrification, right. Which is really to address the environmental challenges, right? So there are a lot of regulation going out there that are actually adding weight to the vehicle and you know that in the trucking industry, you know, every pounds count. So it’s for us, it’s really about how do we address the weight that is being added to the vehicle by providing lighter products. And just to give you an example, that 36 pound wheel, we not only, you know, did the traditional testing, but we took it to the track. We tested it because we wanna really to understand, besides the weight saving, fuel saving, right? How much, if you switch to our 36 pound wheel versus the steel wheels, how much fuel saving you can bring to the fleet. And we found out that that particular wheel, if you use it, it could bring you up to 0.9 gallons of fuel saving per 1000 miles. And that’s almost 100 gallons a year per truck. So that’s, that’s a big difference, especially today with everybody knows what’s happening out there in the market with gas and diesel going up. Right. So we’re really proud of this launch. Very, very proud.

Jamie Irvine:

Right. We’re recording this on March 8th. So, you know, fuel is at an all time high, we’ve seen record numbers and that has a big impact. And you also, you made that interesting point about how with some of these new technologies related to electrification, which of course is the theme of the show. If it’s adding weight well, that’s reducing revenue for what they can carry. So by you, as a manufacturer, supplying a product that lowers the weight, then you’re allowing them to take more freight and make more money. So it’s saving them money and making them money.

Nathalie Tessier:

Exactly. Yes. Allowing our customers to haul more freight, actually maximizing their drive because they can get more money out of their truck or they can get the same amount of money at a less cost. But you know the other thing I wanted to mention, because light weighting is very critical for us. So we not only launched the 24 5 1/4 lightest and strongest wheel, but we also did launch the lightest 22 5/14 inch wide base wheel, the lightest in the market that you can find right now it’s also three pounds lighter than it’s predecessor. So it’s weighing only 49 pounds. So if you think about an 18 wheeler, it’s a lot of weight saving. If you compare with, you know, dual seal wheel position in such an engine, it can save a lot of weight on that kind of particular solution.

Jamie Irvine:

We’re gonna take a quick break. We’ll be right back. Don’t have a heavy-duty part number and need to look up a part? Go to parts.diesellaptops.com or download the app on Apple or Android to create your free account. Looking for high quality fuel injection for heavy-duty applications? Having one supplier for fuel injection allows you to better serve customers by providing them with a complete line, which increases your sales and profitability. Learn more at ambacinternational.com/aftermarket. We’re back from our break. And before the break, we were talking about how important it is for fleets to be able to have products that help them to either make more money or save money. And I know from having Alcoa Wheels on the podcast before and talking to some of your other great employees, one of the things that we’re all focused on is helping fleets with the maintenance management and, you know, think of the theme of the show it’s electrification, but then they added on that whole maintenance management component. So how is it that you are as a company you’re really moving to be able to help your customers who are the fleets at the end, to be able to handle maintenance management and all of this will move to electrification. Like how do you see that all coming together?

Nathalie Tessier:

So that’s a great question because that leads me to talk about another great innovation that we just announced, which addressed your question around both. How do we bring, you know, fuel savings to our customer? We talked about light weighting, but there’s also an important trend, which is aerodynamics, right? And then we said, okay, as a company with our history, one of the big thing where we say, okay, how do we launch a product that will, at the same time, with the fuel saving, but also make the fleet’s life, the maintenance guy’s life easier. And that’s how our whole aerodynamic new solutions came into the play. We’re like, okay we don’t only need to launch a product that will have proven fuel efficiencies, but that will also be easy to install, where you don’t have to take it out when your truck driver or your maintenance guy have to do some maintenance, get to be able to look into the wheels. So it’s a product, especially, I’m talking about the drive. So it’s a cover that actually is very easy to install. Right. It’s less than four minutes. So you talk about how do we make, you know, maintenance or you know, even, even for the overall, if you think about cost, right? Those cover only takes four minutes to install. It’s four minutes per wheel. I mean, it’s amazing. It’s like four minutes per wheel.

Jamie Irvine:

What do they get out of that? Like they install in four minutes, and what happens? Like what performance gains do they get?

Nathalie Tessier:

I mean, so we did the same thing we said, okay, you know what, we really wanna understand the performance of those covers. Right? So we tested them, we took them to the field track, and then we tested them with, you know, specific methodology. I’m not gonna get into the detail, but what we’re able to find is when you put an Alcoa, uh, drive cover into the wheel, you can save up to 0.96 gallon per 1000 miles.

Jamie Irvine:

That’s more than the weight savings of the wheel.

Nathalie Tessier:

Yes.

Jamie Irvine:

So you’re doubling.

Nathalie Tessier:

It’s amazing. Yes. It’s amazing. And plus it’s only four minutes to install, right. It’s really easy to install and you don’t have to take the cover out if you need to, you know, either change your tire or if you need to do any maintenance, you don’t have to change it. You don’t have to take it out. You just leave it, there’s a nine inch opening. You can see inside, see if there’s something, you know, going on. It does not, you know the hub of the wheel, usually, you know, the system that are in the market are tied to the hub. It’s not. So the hub is, you know, unburdened. So we’re really excited. It’s also, when you think about the new trend, you know, adding weight to the vehicle, it’s not only about light weighting, but it’s also about aerodynamics. So we’re very proud to be able to do both at the same time.

Jamie Irvine:

Right. So, okay. So we’ve got the business part of the show out of the way. Let’s talk a little bit about what you’ve been enjoying here. Like, what has been the highlight of being at TMC so far? You don’t have to say being on my show.

Nathalie Tessier:

No, thank you for having me, but I would say, you know, with the pandemic it’s been really hard to make, you know, I don’t wanna say traditional connection, but it’s one thing, you know, when you can see people and you can talk to them, you can watch them in the eyes, you know, making those connections again, seeing people you haven’t seen in awhile. So I think it’s an amazing and great opportunity to reconnect with friends, with people that are trying to address the same issue as you are exchanging ideas. And I think one of the great things about TMC is you have fleets, you get manufacturers, you get know part suppliers altogether taking their hats out, right. It’s not about our brands. It’s about how do we get together and solve, you know, really important issues for the trucking industry. So how do we make that industry better? So it’s great.

Jamie Irvine:

It’s a wonderful opportunity for collaboration. And that’s one of the things for myself, I’ve just thoroughly enjoyed being able to get back with the industry. Last time I was at a TMC event was Atlanta 2020. So it’s been a while, right? So if someone is listening right now and they’re sitting on the fence about whether they should become a member of TMC, why do you think they should become a member of this great organization?

Nathalie Tessier:

Because I think you will have the opportunity to meet people that are really have vested interest in the industry. You’ll meet a lot of experts, right? You meet a lot of experts that actually are really willing to work on solving those issues. I mean, my team, I have a lot of people that are involved with group discussions, you know, Sergeant at arms, they really come here they invest their time, you know, building relationship and just being able, you know, to make those great minds that are here. Those people that really understand the trucking industry, right? I mean, this is a unique opportunity to do that. So I would really encourage everybody that’s in the trucking industry to be part of TMC.

Jamie Irvine:

You’ve been listening to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. We’ve been speaking with Nathalie Tessier, Vice President and General Manager for the Americas at Alcoa Wheels. To learn more about Alcoa Wheels, visit alcoawheels.com. Nathalie, thank you so much for being on The Heavy-Duty Parts Report.

Nathalie Tessier:

Thank you. It was great. A pleasure to talk to you.

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