McLAREN has used the Geneva Motor Show to announce it will commit to a new petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain, and is testing a pure electric super sports car as part of a bold $2 billion, six-year plan that should double the size of the company by 2022.
Committing to 15 new and revised models – including coupes, spiders and limited edition models, as well as the new hybrid powertrains – McLaren said it had started testing a pure electric sports car as part of an electrification strategy that will include a family of hybrid models.
“We’ve redefined our business plan for the coming six years … we’ve called it Track 22,” said McLaren Automotive CEO Mike Flewitt.
“We’re going to be investing a billion pounds ($A1.95 billion) during that six years just in product development. We’ve got a lot of new cars coming up; a billion pounds equates to 15 new models.”
McLaren will renew its core models – including the 570, 650 and 675 model lines – but the new range is unlikely to include a replacement for the P1 hyper car, production of which finished in 2015; McLaren executives say a replacement will come, but only once the performance and tech justifies it.
While McLaren will continue to produce V8 models – and possibly a V6 – a key plank in McLaren’s future model strategy revolves around hybrid models that bring efficiency and performance gains.
“We are in the middle of developing a new powertrain architecture, and during that six years we’ll launch another engine family that will run alongside the existing V8,” said Flewitt.
We’ve demonstrated what we can do with hybrid technology in the P1, producing one of the most phenomenal driver’s cars there’s ever been.
“Hybrids will become part of our life; we’re developing hybrids for further out in the product range. By the time we get to 2022 more than 50 percent of our cars will be hybrid.”
Flewitt also said the company was working on a pure electric car.
“The challenge for us is developing an electric car that is as stunning and engaging and exciting to drive as an LT and a P1,” he said. “And to that end we’ve started to develop a concept car, a prototype to experiment with that and understand how we can produce that same engagement with an EV platform.”
Sales and marketing boss Joylon Nash said the challenge with electric performance was ensuring it sounded and performed as a McLaren should.
“We do see that pure EV at some stage is going to be something that will come to our segment,” said Nash.
“There’s no doubt you can probably get electric motors to deliver the performance that you need … but can you deliver a driving experience that a customer’s going to want? That’s what we’ve got to test.”
As rivals such as Lamborghini and Ferrari continue to grow sales, Nash said McLaren would cap production at about 5000 cars.
“Fundamentally we don’t think it’s that exclusive to go above 5000 cars. Our customers want exclusivity.”
He ruled out producing cars outside of the United Kingdom.
“We don’t want to manufacture cars somewhere else; we are proudly British and we’ll continue making them at Woking.”
The announcement about McLaren’s production future came at the Geneva motor show, where McLaren showed its 570 GT.
With an emphasis on more relaxed long-distance touring, the 570 GT uses the same basic engine and architecture as the S but gets a redesigned tail that includes a side-hinged glass hatch.
McLaren has also softened the front springs by 15 percent and the rears by 10 percent, along with a 2 percent reduction in the steering ratio.
“[It’s] sort of calmed the car down so it flatters the driver to enjoy the experience of a longer journey,” said Flewitt.
“The GT is in a sense more about the journey, more about luxury, more about practicality, and we’ve done a lot of work to engineer very, very different characteristics into the two cars (570 S and 570 GT).”