McLaren is Shooting for EV Supercar to Have at Least 30 Minutes of Track Use Per Charge
The McLaren Speedtail is getting all the headlines these days — and deservedly so — but the British supercar brand also has an all-electric supercar in its sights. McLaren CEO, Mike Flewitt, confirmed as much, telling Auto News that an EV supercar is likely to happen, in part as a response to legislation changes in markets all over the world. The company isn’t in a rush to build one, though, at least until the technology catches up with McLaren’s own requirements for an electric supercar.
McLaren Testing Electric Supercar; Production Model Still a Few Years Away
The fact that McLaren is testing an all-electric supercar is no longer secret. With the P1 bringing the first hybrid McLaren on public roads and gasoline-electric drivetrain set to power half of all McLarens sold by 2022, a full EV is the next logical step for the British firm. According to its engineers, testing is now well underway, but McLaren is struggling to create a drivetrain that delivers track-capable performance. Specifically, the biggest issue is battery technology, which can’t yet provide the energy needed for fast laps at the race track.
McLaren Is Ready To Jump Into The Electric Supercar Segment
If anybody needed any more proof that electrification is fast becoming a real thing in the supercar segment, consider that McLaren is already preparing for its own electric supercar. Seems like it wasn’t that long ago when the thought of an all-electric McLaren would’ve been enough to draw laughter in a room full of mimes. And yet here we are. An all-electric McLaren supercar is on the table and according to Autocar, there’s a good chance it will debut as early as 2019.
Specific details about the planned McLaren EV supercar are still being paced out, but there are rumblings concerning a few details about the model that’s painting a somewhat clear picture of what we can expect out of it. One is that the model is expected to be classified under McLaren’s super exclusive Ultimate Series, a sub-section within the company that also includes the McLaren P1. There are also whispers that the proposed model will feature technology borrowed from the P1 and on top of that, it’ll also tap into the automaker’s involvement in the development of the Formula E powertrains that it supplies to some of the teams in the series. As far as actual figures go, Autocar says that the all-electric McLaren will have the same performance characteristics as the 675LT, the range-topping model in McLaren’s Super Series division that has 666 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque at its disposal. Since the electric supercar is going to sit in the higher echelon Ultimate Series, it is reasonable to think that it could have a little bit more power than the 675LT, maybe somewhere in the vicinity of 700 horsepower.
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McLaren made headlines everywhere when it announced that part of its future business plan, “TRACK 22,” included the development of a pure electric vehicle for the Ultimate Series. The said vehicle would be positioned above the 675LT and below the crazy P1. That announcement came from McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt back in July of this year, and just a couple of months later, we’re sitting here looking at an all-electric McLaren P1. It doesn’t have the 300-mile range or a top speed of 200 mph as expected but, given the price and its compact nature, that’s no big deal at all.
See, this isn’t a car that you purchase, lock away in the garage, and take to the track on occasion. The most compact car ever built by McLaren is actually made for those without a driver’s license. More specifically, those around six years of age. Be that as it may, this thing is every bit a McLaren as it’s road- and track-going brethren. First off, it has a central driving position that can be traced back to the McLaren F1 and it has those awesome Dihedral doors.
But, that’s not all. This little supercar is the first ever open-top McLaren P1. As an official McLaren, it should come as no surprise that its performance is top notch. To put it simply, it can go from zero to maximum speed in just two seconds. Power is sent from the electric motors to the rear wheels via a three-speed forward transmission with reverse. Furthermore, there is an MP3 player and audio system as standard equipment that is pre-programmed with popular nursery rhymes. There’s a start/stop button that activates the lights and “air conditioning” unit, which is probably just a small fan, but cool nonetheless.
McLaren is calling this little EV The Ride On McLaren P1TM. It’s available in just one color, Volcano Yellow, and has a top speed of about three mph. It goes on sale at the end of October 2016 at selected McLaren retailers and will later be available from global toy retailers. Pricing is set at £375 or about $486 at current exchange rates.
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McLaren Reportedly Working on All-Electric Supercar
At the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, McLaren unveiled its Track22 business plan, announcing that at least 50 percent of its sports cars would feature hybrid drivetrains by 2022. What the British brand didn’t mention at the Swiss car show is that it is also working on an all-electric vehicle. The news comes from Auto Express, which claims, quoting a company insider, that McLaren is preparing an electric sports car that will sit in the range-topping Ultimate Series that includes only the P1 as of 2016.
The EV will sit below the limited-edition hypercar and will reportedly cost less than the P1. With the latter priced from £866,000 (around $1.25 million as of June 2016), the electric car will fetch significantly less than £1 million (about $1.44 million) before options, but the actual figure is still a mystery. The source also confirmed that the EV won’t replace the P1, with a proper successor to be launched sometime in 2023 with a next-generation hybrid drivetrain.
As far as performance goes, McLaren reportedly aims to make the electric supercar "as exciting as a 675LT." While that might not seem like much for an Ultimate Series car, but it’s pretty impressive for an all-electric vehicle. As a brief reminder, the 675LT needs only 2.9 seconds to hit 62 mph and just 7.9 ticks to reach 124 mph. Top speed is likely to exceed 200 mph, which would be a first for road-going, production electric cars. Also, the EV will be track-capable.
“No one buys a McLaren because they need one. We know that,” our insider told us. “So we need to make an EV that’s as exciting as a 675LT. An electric McLaren would need to manage 30 minutes on track with a 30-minute break before heading back out again," said the unnamed insider.
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With a successful Formula One team under their belt, McLaren is taking on a "broader range" for their lineup with the planned addition of a number of high end sports cars according to a senior executive for the company. The new MP4-12C was only the first model of a long range of vehicles set to take on the ever-increasing fuel economy and emission standards by using lightweight materials like carbon fiber, along with other advanced technologies. McLaren Managing Director, Antony Sheriff, says McLaren is planning to use battery-based propulsion systems in its future models to achieve this type of performance, most recently getting as much as one horsepower out of a lithium-ion cell the size of a conventional AA battery.
Sheriff goes on to say that McLaren will continue to build two-seat sports cars that take full advantage of the Formula One technology they have available, and that they will debut one model each year. The full range of new models will sit at “different price points,” both above and below the MP4-12C.
When asked what type of backup plan McLaren had in place in case things did not work out as planned, Sheriff simply stated that he was “not worried about” that as an option. He went on to add, “One good thing about having a Formula One team is that you have a Formula One mentality. If there’s a problem you don’t get phased, you get it fixed.”
That “get it fixed” mentality may take them a long way as European and U.S regulations aren’t going anywhere and will more than likely get stricter in the coming years. Sheriff addressed that as well, stating that there are exceptions for small companies like McLaren in the European regulations and that McLaren is shooting for higher mileage than necessary to combat the changing regulations.
“We don’t see this legislation as a threat. We see it as a challenge,” Sheriff claimed.