McLaren testing electric car but production still years away

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McLaren P1

McLaren P1

McLaren in 2016 revealed it was investigating the potential for an electric supercar as part of its Track22 business plan.

The company has since revealed it has test mules for an electric car up and running but that production is likely years if not decades away from becoming a reality.

“We’ve got a pure [electric vehicle] mule and part of the reason for that is to ask how we can deliver driver engagement in a fully electric world,” McLaren engineer Dan Parry-Williams recently told Autocar. “But there’s still quite a journey from here to there in terms of our products.”

The main issue is an obvious one: battery technology. Current batteries deplete too quickly and overheat during track driving. They also get very heavy once you start accounting for the energy requirements of a supercar.

Parry-Williams acknowledges that improvements are being made, though he said these are mostly aimed at delivering increased range as opposed to the high bursts of energy required for track driving.

Part of McLaren's development process has stemmed from experience with the P1, itself a plug-in hybrid. Additionally, McLaren has supplied powertrains for Formula E cars. Both of these factors have had tremendous sway in the company's electric supercar plans.

Ahead of any electric supercar, McLaren will introduce hybrid variants to its Super and Sports Series cars as the current cars round out the end of their life cycles. Previously, McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt commented on hybrid power in future cars, and it's rumored this hybrid system will use a turbocharged V-6 engine.

McLaren’s next hybrid, however, will be the BP23, though the system in this Ultimate Series member will be paired with the 4.0-liter V-8 engine found in the 720S. According to McLaren, the BP23’s power and speed figures will top every other production McLaren ever made—including the P1.

 
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