MCLAREN has revealed it is developing an all-electric replacement for its P1 hypercar. Just don’t expect it to arrive any time soon.
Plans for a P1 successor are already underway as part of McLaren’s billion dollar Track22 business plan, with company execs confirming engineers are working on an all-electric powertrain for the brand’s next Ultimate Series model.
But while development has begun, McLaren is waiting on the next leap forward in battery technology to ensure the P1 replacement makes a “huge performance change and is a technology showcase.”
Speaking to Wheels at the Australian reveal of the 570GT (pictured above), which is McLaren’s most luxurious and usable model yet, chief exterior designer Robert Melville confirmed full EV testing mules would hit the road soon.
“When we do our next ultimate car it has to be a big technology step, such as full EV, or it has to make enough of a performance leap to make it worthwhile,” Melville said.
“By 2022 half of our range will be hybrid, and during that time we’ll also be running around with fully EV mule cars. We haven’t got a car working yet, but it won’t be long.
“But on that front we’ll wait until we get the energy density in the batteries right, that’s when we’ll do our next ultimate vehicle. For us to make an ultimate car it has to make a clear statement, either about performance or technology, so that could be in 10 years, or possibly five.”
Melville admitted one stumbling block for an electric McLaren P1 is how it will sound, and added an EV P1 could look drastically different due to its battery drivetrain allowing for greater design flexibility.
“Sound is so important, so how do we handle that as we go forward?” he asked. “Turbos are catching up and hybrids aren’t much of a problem, but a full EV model? We don’t know yet. I don’t think any of us have the answer.
“People are talking about synthetic, digital engine sounds to give the impression, but that’s no McLaren because it’s fake. So yeah, we’re working really hard on that.”
And as for the looks, “it gives us different requirements, especially because we don’t need as much cooling at the front. So the visual changes I’m really looking forward to. It’ll be very monoform, very fluid shapes for our EV vehicle.”
McLaren’s ambitious Track22 expansion plan will see it introduce 15 new models, a new engine family and greater use of hybrid drivetrains. However the British brand will not make a 2+2 model nor add a cheaper Porsche Cayman rival to its range. The current entry point to the McLaren range is the $350,000 McLaren 540C.
“Not at the moment, no,” said Melville. “A 2+2 would be a massive step and you can’t modify our carbonfibre monocell in that way, so the implied cost is huge. We’d be doing a whole new chassis basically.
“And we won’t go below our 540C, that’s definitely our cut off. We don’t feel the need to go below that point. In terms of exclusivity, we’ve opened the brand up now and from a price point we have quite a wide base, so we’ve got a big range and in price. So there’s no reason for us to go lower, It’d just muddy the water and muddy our vision too much.”
Who do you think deserves to win the 2017 COTY title? Cast your vote for a chance to win $1,000.
Sign up here to receive the latest round-up of Wheels news, reviews and video highlights straight to your inbox each week.