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Hybrid revolution forcing McLaren to shed weight

McLaren looking to win ‘weight race’ with heavy hybrid powertrains around the corner

27 Apr 2020

BRITISH supercar manufacturer McLaren has stated its intention to cut as much weight as possible on its range of high-performance vehicles, to help combat the incoming hybridisation of its powertrains.


The brand has said it plans to introduce hybrid models by 2025, with the electric motor and battery system adding a considerable amount of weight over internal-combustion models.


In an effort to make its supercars as nimble as possible, McLaren has its own Composites Technology Centre based in Yorkshire, which is dedicated to innovating new lightweight materials and manufacturing composites such as carbon-fibre.


Speaking at the 2020 Automotive News World Congress, McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt said for a brand manufacturing supercars, reducing weight was of utmost importance.


“Vehicle mass is the enemy of performance whether a car has a conventional internal combustion engine or a fully electrified powertrain, so winning the weight race is an absolute priority for us – and one of the reasons McLaren Automotive has invested heavily in the McLaren Composites Technology Centre, our own UK composite materials innovation and production facility,” he said.


“Reducing vehicle weight is at the centre of our strategy for the next generations of McLaren supercars.


“We are already class-leading and committed to further driving down weight in order to be in the best possible position to maximise the efficiency and performance of hybridised models to be introduced by 2025.”


While the British brand has largely relied solely on petrol-powered propulsion for its range of coupes and convertibles, one notable exception was the P1 hypercar from 2013, which teamed a 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 to a 4.7kWh lithium-ion battery pack and electric motor, producing a massive combined output of 673kW/980Nm.


At 1490kg, the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) P1 is one of the heaviest models McLaren has produced, however there are still other petrol models in its current line-up that are heavier, such as the GT coupe (1530kg).


McLaren announced earlier in the month that a P1 successor was currently under development, and slated for reveal in 2024.


The pursuit of lighter weight can be seen in the brand’s latest model, the 765LT, a new long tail offering based on the 720S coupe.


McLaren has knocked 80kg off the kerb weight of the 720S, with the 765LT boasting a dry weight of 1229kg.


McLaren’s development team looked at a range of options to help reduce the 765LT’s weight, using carbon-fibre for the exterior body panels, aerodynamic components, seats and centre tunnel. 


Lightweight side windows have also been installed, along with polycarbonate glazing at the rear and a titanium exhaust system.


The suspension components and lightweight wheels form a 22kg weight saving, while customers can also choose to omit items such as air-conditioning and an audio system.


Its combination of power (563kW/800Nm) and light weight allows the 765LT to sprint from standstill to 100km/h in 2.8 seconds, on to 200km in 7.2 and a V-max of 330km/h.


Local customer deliveries are expected to commence around the fourth quarter of the year, with an expected pricetag somewhere around the $700,000 mark.

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