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IPA Wheels brand research: 08-14 STi Limited OEM Replicas


Chemicalogic
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The following post is dense with information regarding a wheel manufacturer and related operations. If you can't give two hoots about who makes your wheels, this is not the thread for you. Hopefully this information and research strategy will prove useful to others looking for factory replicas, or any wheel/part manufacturer you would like to know more about. If you want to skip the meat of this post and get to the raw data, scroll down to the bottom.

 

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I'm in the market for a new set of wheels, and happened across a set of STi Limited replicas from a brand I've never heard of - IPA Wheels. This is more about the brand than the wheel, and finding out whether or not their product is worth a damn. Not having heard of this company, and seeing the price (currently selling for ~$650 for a full set of 4 in 5x100) I was extremely skeptical. They definitely aren't forged, but what casting process is used to produce them? What material is used? Where are they made? Do the people who make these make other wheels that I would trust? Do they meet TUV/JWL standards or have third party VIA approval?

 

Having access to the unlimited power of the internet, I did some research to answer these questions and find out whether these were just junk or if I got lucky and found a sore d**k deal. First, here's an image of the wheels in question and a link to their website: https://ipawheels.com/.

 

yTA4PyE.jpg

 

Their site is sparse to say the least. No detailed information on their manufacturing processes or experience (or who manufactures for them). Just three styles of wheel with different sizes/offsets and a contact link. Not a good start. From here, I performed a quick domain lookup to see if I could find out who owns the domain to get started on my research. I left the phone and email information out of the results:

 

Registrant Contact Information for ipawheels.com

Domain: ipawheels.com

Name: Primax Wheel Corp

Organization: Primax Wheel Corp

Address: 9568 RICHMOND PL

City: RANCHO CUCAMONGA

State / Province: CA

Postal Code: 91730-6010

Country: US

 

Some keen forum members who have been around the block might recognize Primax and might already see where this is going (I did not). Some info about Primax I've found in government and business registration directories is below. If you are researching a wheel (or any part) manufacturer and you've never gone this far, you'll want to start with the state listed on the address in the domain lookup you just performed. Search the state's Secretary of State (sosnc.gov, businesssearch.sos.ca.gov etc) site for the business by company name. Once you've found them, you will see public registration data.

 

Primax Wheel Corporation

Registered with California SOS

CEO: Hui Mei Lan

Entity ID: C1497555

Registered since: 1991, originally in Ontario CA

Updated in 2012 to Rancho Cucamonga address seen in domain registration

 

Primax Wheel Corporation has its own website: https://www.primaxwheel.com/. The site alludes to Primax having been around since 1976, and the only evidence I can find for this are a few old Primax wheels from the 80's. There's no public record I could find in a reasonable amount of time indicating they were incorporated in 1976, so I'll take that for what it is. Interestingly, they also cite ISO 9002, QS9000 and Jp VIA standards. Sure enough, if you take a look at their wheels they are all JWL stamped. Primax has been producing and selling their wheels in Japan for some time.

 

Manifest records were the next data source I looked up related to Primax Wheel Corp. Manifest data suggests that their wheels are manufactured in Taiwan and shipped to Japan, the United States and Canada by the Fujibond Trading company. One of the item descriptions in said manifest is 'Lexani Wheels'. Okay, that's fascinating... Lexani is registered as a completely separate corporation, and following that road will take another few days of research so let's abandon this clue for now and move on. Taking a look at all of the active businesses operating out of the Rancho Cucamonga address shows the following company: Chu Kun Lan LLC. Chu Kun Lan was registered on 1/19/2010 to the Rancho Cucamonga address, by Hui Mei Lan (Primax CEO) two years prior to Primax moving to the exact same address. It seems Chu Kun Lan LLC was set up as a proxy real estate investment 'shell' to manage physical assets separately from Primax. The warehouse was purchased for around $2.5 million in 2010. Fair enough.

 

Lastly, there's one more brand associated with Primax: XXR. Most of you will know about XXR Wheels. Here's the physical location in Google maps showing the offices. Note the donut stains behind the building, clearly this is our spot.

 

ky9k813.jpg

 

And here's a domain lookup on xxrwheels.com to seal the deal:

 

Registrant Contact Information for xxrwheels.com

Name: Primax Wheel Corp

Organization: Primax Wheel Corp

Address: 9568 RICHMOND PL

City: RANCHO CUCAMONGA

State / Province: CA

Postal Code: 91730-6010

Country: US

 

Alright, that's enough for now. There's more information but I feel the above is a good start and honestly tells us most of what we need to know about the manufacturer of this wheel. The information I've collected combined with only verifiable information (sorry nasioc) is compiled below:

  • Primax Wheel Corporation is a major wheel manufacturing outfit that has been incorporated as Primax Wheel Corporation since 1991.
  • Primax uses a factory in Taiwan to manufacture low velocity squeeze cast (low turbulence and lighter weight than flow/gravity casting) wheels, unless otherwise specified (some forged wheels are available through XXR).
  • Wheels manufactured by Primax are made of A356 aluminum.
  • IPA Wheels is a subsidiary of Primax.
  • XXR Wheels is a subsidiary of Primax.
  • Both IPA and XXR branded wheels are manufactured in Taiwan through Primax.
  • XXR operations have been housed out of Rancho Cucamonga, CA since 2012.
  • IPAs initial introduction date as an additional brand of Primax is unknown.

 

Based on the above information, it's safe to assume that IPA wheels will be at least as competent at performing their duties as any other squeeze cast A356 wheel. The material and process should be enough to convince most, assuming that a replica of this wheel in both 5x100 and 5x114.3 patterns is of interest to you. If you want more info on the material properties or use of A356 in automotive applications, check out these resources. The University of Windsor theses is particularly fascinating and should shine a light on A356 wheels cast with this technique.


materialsdata.net

link.springer.com

scholar.uwindsor.ca

 

I'll likely pick up a set of these replicas in the next couple of weeks, and report back any additional findings such as casting marks, wheel finish etc here.

 

TLDR: IPA Wheels is owned and produced by the same company that owns and produces XXR Wheels, Primax Wheel Corporation. The same A356 aluminum and squeeze casting process is used to produce IPA, XXR and Primax branded wheels (unless specified otherwise).

Edited by Chemicalogic
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  • 3 months later...

finding them for sale might be difficult. This is the only listing that has them in stock- https://nlmotoring.com/product/wheels/ipa-wheels/ipa-1ge-18x8-5-chromium-black-5x100-et52-wheels-1ge888050/

 

$158/wheel isn't really cheap. Actual Enkei wheels are only $50 more. 23lbs isn't light either

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I nearly did, was going to order a set from FI or a warehouse on ebay but they went on backorder and I decided to go a different route and get a set of 17's. My wagon is a daily driver so reducing sidewall is something I wasn't super keen on doing and took the backorder status as a sign. I ended up finding a clean set of legit Rays RE30's for a decent price so scooped those up instead. All that being said, clearly there are folks out there buying these wheels and I think eventually we'll see them on somebody's car. If you do pick some up, let us know how they fare.
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