From the show floor to dealership, new cars sometimes lose their edge

Aftermarket wheels can return "wow factor" to production vehicles

Jan 15, 2013, 12:57 ET from Wheel Pros

DETROIT, Jan. 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumers who have fallen in love with one of the 50-plus new vehicles being debuted at this year's North American International Auto Show may be in for a disappointment.

"On the show floor, you're seeing the top of the top of the line, with the largest wheel and tire package possible," said Keith Alinder, Technical Director for Wheel Pros, one of the world's largest manufacturers and distributors of aftermarket wheels.

These options fill out the wheel wells and can make the show vehicles look more aggressive and more balanced than the base model available for purchase at a dealership, which can sometimes seem a little anemic by comparison.

"You're going to see a lot of optional equipment at the show: the sport package, the upgraded brakes, the wider wheels for the back of the car," said Alinder. "Sometimes you'll see wheel and tire sizes that were never even made to sell."

From the paper sketch stage, designers creating the next model destined for the showroom floor typically equip their creative concepts with large wheels to give the vehicle design a "wow factor" on paper, said Emile Bouret, a vehicle designer, racing driver and host of The Motorazzi and OnCars (

But by the time that vehicle has progressed from a creative sketch through countless rounds of revision and put into production, design compromises have been made.

"One of the first things to be sacrificed at the altar of practicality in production cars are the wheels," said Bouret. "It's a simple change that can make a huge impact on a car's visual impact."

And one of the easiest ways to put the wow factor back into a production car is to order up a new set of rims, said Alinder. While there is a limited selection of dealer upgrades available, aftermarket brands like KMC Wheels, American Racing, Lorenzo and Motegi Racing offer a broad range of styles to suit any vehicle.

Alinder and his colleagues from Wheel Pros are scouting the showroom floor this week to ensure they have wheels in a variety of sizes and finishes to suit the 50-plus new vehicle launches being made at this year's show.

"We send people from our company to Detroit to get a feel for what's coming out in 2014 and 2015 so we can make sure we have product available the day a customer drives off the lot with their new car," said Alinder.

Wheel Pros is one of the world's largest suppliers of aftermarket custom wheels, performance tires and related accessories for cars, SUVs and light trucks. Products are sold worldwide in more than 20 countries on four continents, and through a U.S. network of more than 25,000 authorized dealers. The Wheel Pros portfolio of popular brands includes American Racing, KMC, XD Series, Moto Metal, ATX, Lorenzo and Motegi Racing.

SOURCE Wheel Pros