McLaren's Reasons For Skipping EV Hypercar Make Perfect Sense

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Many improvements need to happen first.

British supercar manufacturer McLaren Automotive isn't going to be developing a battery-electric vehicle anytime soon, as battery technology simply hasn't yet evolved sufficiently. Speaking to Mark Phelan of the Detroit Free Press, McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt remarked that "technology doesn't allow for a great EV sports car today, largely because of the weight of batteries."

To be clear, McLaren Automotive isn't entirely opposed to powertrain electrification; the company produced the limited-production plug-in-hybrid McLaren P1 from 2013 to 2015, and the manufacturer is looking at launching another plug-in model around late 2020, on its way to hybridizing its entire lineup over the next few years. That car should have a pure-electric range of about 25 to 30 miles.

2015 McLaren P1 Front Angle View McLaren
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2015 McLaren P1 Front Angle View McLaren

A plug-in hybrid with relatively little pure-electric range will allow McLaren to keep the battery pack small and light, limiting how much the heavy lithium-ion cells affect the total vehicle weight. Electric motors lend themselves well to blistering acceleration, but the added weight of a large battery pack is something McLaren can't abide, as extra weight compromises handling.

Like most exotic supercar brands, McLaren takes a fanatical approach to vehicle lightweighting, incorporating plenty of carbon fiber into its car chassis. Carbon fiber is expensive, but its strength-to-weight ratio allows manufacturers to cut down on a car's curb weight without sacrificing strength and rigidity.

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2015 McLaren P1 Front View Driving McLaren
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One particular technology that could hold promise for EVs of the future is solid-state battery tech, which uses solid electrodes and a solid electrolyte. Those batteries are more energy-dense than today's best lithium-ion cells, but they are expensive to produce, and likely years away from being production-ready in an automotive application.

McLaren's CEO went on to say that the British supercar maker also doesn't see a utility vehicle in its future, rejecting a trend set by Lamborghini's Urus that will also see utility vehicles from the likes of Ferrari and Aston Martin launched in the coming years.

"It doesn't fit the brand," says Flewitt. "We need to be renowned for excellence in the segments we're in. We'd be just another brand doing SUVs."

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