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McLaren BP23 hypercar set for Australia

Hyped up: Some examples of the yet to be revealed ‘BP23’ McLaren hypercar could eventually make it Down Under.

Hybrid McLaren to arrive locally, but after another hardcore sportscar

21 Oct 2017

MCLAREN Asia/Pacific managing director George Biggs said he will investigate how the forthcoming BP23 hypercar can be driven on Australian roads after confirming that it would likely get a local launch, but not before the car-maker reveals another hardcore sportscar.

Speaking at the national media reveal of the 570S Spider in Sydney last week, Mr Biggs emphasised that McLaren was a global company, and because Australia was its seventh largest market globally it was important to deliver BP23 here.

“We’re a global company (and) we make sure that all of our markets are served correctly, so on that basis I would expect that we may see the car (BP23) here,” Mr Biggs told GoAuto.

“We’re in conversation with clients (but) understanding the various regulations and rules for the market, whether it’ll be appropriate regulation or not for that particular market, it’s an ongoing conversation.” In August the federal government proposed to change criteria within the Motor Vehicle Standards Act allowing left-hand-drive vehicles that fall under a ‘rarity’ clause – defined as fewer than 1000 units produced – would not require right-hand drive conversion, but will need state or territory agreement for road use.

Asked whether the three-seat hybrid hypercar would be classified as left- or right-hand drive, and whether it could comply with the changed regulations, however, Mr Biggs replied: “We’ll have to wait and see how it goes.

“We work with the local government and the regulators in each market and we respect the rules. We’re a manufacturer that has to work within those rules. Obviously, we’re in some dialogue (with governments) but largely, it’s about, what are the rules? How do we comply with them?” However, McLaren head of global product Alex Long further added that the BP23 “is already sold out.” “So 106 cars globally. As soon as we mention a car of that level of performance with three seats … 106 was the number of F1s we built and so it was a number we settled on pretty quickly.” The production version of the BP23 was still some time away, though, he revealed. McLaren has commenced prototype testing but, “we’re not into final design, execution or anything like that at this stage”.

“You won’t be seeing the car just yet,” he said, further adding that McLaren has not yet decided on a name for the production petrol-electric hypercar that will be the spiritual successor to the iconic F1.

“We haven’t settled on it. The project name was BP23 (but) we’ve yet to settle on a moniker for the car. (But) the car’s in development at the moment. I drove the three-seat mule quite a lot in recent times. It’s absolutely brilliant.

“I can say already, sitting in the middle seat of a McLaren ... well, we actually use a seatbelt from the F1. It’s a pretty special project but it’s still early stages. The technology behind this car is pretty impressive as well and so we won't be seeing a final design on the streets just yet.” McLaren this week announced another Ultimate Series vehicle will be revealed globally in the first quarter of 2018 with a very intense track focus and it is destined to sit alongside the 720S while beating the production BP23 to market.

The car-maker said in a statement that “its mission is to be the most extreme, track-concentrated road car McLaren has yet designed” while it “will be produced in very limited numbers and all examples are already assigned”.

“This next model to join the Ultimate Series will be the ultimate track car but will be road legal. It will be delivered ahead of a second future Ultimate Series model codenamed BP23, which aims to be the world’s first hyper-GT.

“Daily usability is being sacrificed to give the most intensive driver experience around a circuit. Its design, described as brutal, will be the purest expression yet of the company’s ‘form follows function’ philosophy.

“More details, including the car’s name, will be revealed before the end of this year.” It is unclear whether the vehicle will use a hybrid powertrain, however McLaren has committed to offering 50 per cent of its range with petrol-electric power by the end of its Track22 plan, which is set to deliver 15 new models by 2022.

However, Mr Long confessed that hybrids will only start appearing in greater numbers “towards the mid-to-end point of the Track22 program”.

As previously reported, McLaren has said the BP23 will deliver more power than its previous P1 hypercar, which made 672kW/900Nm combined – however it is unclear whether this track-focused sibling will follow that path.

McLaren has also previously admitted that issues around the weight of battery packs still need to be resolved before more hybrids can be delivered to market.

“The sense of using hybrid to enhance performance is absolutely where we want to go, but we also want to do it in a way true to our DNA, which is lightly,” Mr Long reiterated.

“So at the moment, a lot of electric and hybrid solutions are very heavy in their execution, which doesn’t help handling and doesn’t help supercar credentials.

“What you'll see from us, we have a very clear technology roadmap whereby we will arrive at that point with the kind of characteristics you see today. But we’re in a ‘weight race’ as well as a ‘power race’ and that's what’s really exciting. That’s what’s really driving us with our EV prototype and with our hybrid development that’s going on in R&D at the moment.

“We tend to say our Ultimate Series is where we make our most cutting-edge technology before we bring it into the rest of the range. That’s going to be the case in the future.”

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