McLaren has confirmed it's built a fully-electric supercar but the challenge of reducing weight and increasing power-density in batteries means we won’t be seeing a non-internal combustion engine car anytime soon.
Speaking to Autocar, engineering design director Dan Parry-Williams told the British publication that the team had already built an EV mule, however, it was far too early to say when a production model would come. It confirms an exclusive report made early last year by Drive that McLaren would build and test an EV as a possible succssor to the P1.
"We’ve got a pure EV mule and part of the reason for that is to ask how we can deliver driver engagement in a fully electric world. But there’s still quite a journey from here to there in terms of our products," Parry-Williams said.
The problem, said Parry-Williams, is that battery development for automotive applications has concentrated on increasing energy density and reducing weight, rather than increasing power density. It means an EV supercar with a range of approximately 500 kilometres – which would add considerable weight – would only last about half an hour when driven at full whack.
But that's going to change, with McLaren announcing earlier this year that it was investing over $1.5 billion across the next six-years on 15 new models.
The engineer didn’t suggest when the Woking-based maker would deliver a fully-electric vehicle, but we can expect a raft of hybrid-electric supercars underpinned by its Track22 plan that will see at least 50 per cent of McLaren’s 2022 range powered by hybrid drivetrains.
McLaren also said it's evaluating a fully-electric prototype for its Ultimate Series supercar range which would most likely see it capable of racing from a standstill to 100km/h in under 3.0 seconds, while Tesla claims its new 10,000Nm roadster can do the same in under two.
McLarens latest supercar, the Senna, doesn't feature a hybrid drivetrain and is powered exclusively by 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine producing 588kW of power and 800Nm of torque. But it’s possible we’ll see its future cars powered by electric motors and supplemented with small on-board generators.
“You can potentially manage (a flat battery) with a niche car. If you exhaust the battery but then have to do one recharging lap, that strikes me as being okay. But if you haven’t got an on-board generator (and) you’ve got a full EV, you haven’t got the luxury of doing that,” said Parry-Williams.
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