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McLaren working around hybrid difficulties

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

Weight, range problems being worked on by McLaren for Track22 rollout

McLaren logo12 Jun 2017

By ROBBIE WALLIS

MCLAREN is developing new hybrid and electric vehicle technologies as part of its Track22 business plan, with the company’s engineers working on ways to improve the technology by reducing battery weight and increasing driving range.

The Track22 plan stipulates that by 2022, McLaren will have released 15 new models or variants, half of which will be hybrids or full EVs.

Speaking to GoAuto at the Australian reveal of the 720S, McLaren Asia Pacific managing director George Biggs said that introducing hybrid technology to performance cars was still a new concept and presented some problems for engineers.

“I think hybridisation has still got a long way to go in terms of performance cars,” he said.

“It’s got a long way to go in terms of, how do you decrease the weight, how do you increase the range, how do you decrease the cost or make it more relevant to more models. So how that turns out is a big question.

“I think that if anyone can tell you the answer to that right now, you should probably start a business with them.” The only hybrid vehicle to be released by McLaren has been the halo P1, which ended production in 2015.

All other models used a 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine, which has increased in displacement to 4.0 litres for the new 720S, and will likely underpin the majority of McLaren vehicles going forward.

McLaren has confirmed at least one new vehicle that will employ hybrid technology – the BP23 hyper-GT – that will aim to trump the performance of the P1 and go head-to-head with the forthcoming Mercedes-AMG Project One and Aston Martin Valkyrie.

Only 106 examples of the three-seater BP23 are being produced ahead of an on-sale date of about 2019, with all 106 being snapped up by customers shortly after it was announced.

No concrete details have been revealed about the powertrain, but it will likely team a battery pack similar to that used on the P1 with the 4.0-litre unit in the 720S.

McLaren has said it will produce more power than the P1, which pumped out a combined 672kW/900Nm. For reference Mercedes-AMG is saying the Project One will develop at least 745kW.

It is also in the process of developing its first fully electric model, with Mr Biggs saying that McLaren is striving to enhance or at least replicate the driver engagement achieved with its petrol-powered cars.

In February McLaren announced a partnership with a number of companies including BMW Group to help develop its next generation of combustion engines in an effort to increase power output while reducing emissions.

It is also working with engine developer Ricardo, engine casting company Granger and Worrall, composite product manufacturer Lentus Composites and the boffins at the University of Bath to create the most efficient engine possible.

So far, Mr Biggs said the development for EV technology is being done in-house, although collaboration in the future would not be out of the question.

“I think as they go through the development process, maybe they decide (to co-develop technologies), but we’ve got some extremely smart and intelligent engineers in terms of what we’ve delivered,” he said.

“I don’t think we’ve got any fear that we’re not going to be able to conquer that challenge, it’s just a case of the time and the appropriate use of that challenge because ultimately our focus is delivering the best driver’s cars, so if that’s your aim, all this other stuff is means to get it to that aim.”

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