McLaren is continuing to evaluate all-electric powertrains and their implementation in future models, because of their relative simplicity and lower centre of gravity than combustion engines.
The Woking brand has long hinted that its P1 replacement, due in 2023, could swap petrol for electric power, and its involvement in Formula E – where it supplies the drivetrain tech – emphasises its expertise in the area.
Last year, McLaren launched its Track 22 strategy, where it aims for half of its range to be hybrid by 2022. The brand also stated that the strategy would prepare it for an all-electric future.
More recently, Mark Vinnels, the company’s executive director for programme development, has emphasised how electric could benefit a supercar, saying “in engineering terms, electric cars are beautiful”.
However, Vinnels also explained that range issues and the less viscerally engaging character of electric are still drawbacks.
“Suppliers in the battery industry are working flat out to improve the energy density of their batteries, while what we want are batteries with better power density,” he said. “One promotes range, the other performance, and the more power density you have, the bigger the issues with cooling the battery pack.”
However, McLaren Applied Technologies is supplying Formula E with a new generation of battery that offers significantly more range, which will negate the need for a car change mid race and therefore offers about double the range.
McLaren is not alone among supercar manufacturers in acknowledging the need for hybridisation and electrification. Ferrari’s next generation of V12 supercars will be hybrid assisted and Porsche has already announced its 671bhp Panamera S E-hybrid, the most powerful such car to go into mainstream production.