McLaren Automotive has created its first-ever supercar prototype powered fully by electricity. This was confirmed by none other Dan Parry-Williams, the company’s very own Engineering Design Director, in an interview with UK’s Autocar. Not only did Parry-Williams confirm the story but he also provided extra details with regards to the prototype.
In the same interview, Parry-Williams said that the company already has a pure EV and one of the reasons is that the company wanted to know what it took to be able to offer excellent driver engagement in a purely electric world. He added that it has been quite a journey for the company to go from here to there as it relates to the company’s products.
The biggest issue though, Parry-Williams disclosed, continued to be related to the battery technology. This is because a high performance race car would need a large amount of energy. He explained that when it comes to an electric supercar, the batteries are typically drained after only 30 minutes running on the track. Companies in the business of developing batteries still have to address the issue of driving the car at constant high speed.
Most investments on batteries, Parry-Williams said, generally focus on energy density rather than power density. A battery that has greater energy density implies in more energy being stored for a given volume. What this means for an electric car is that it can reach a longer range without the need to make the battery pack larger. For McLaren, the need is for power-dense batteries as it means electricity is delivered to the motor faster resulting in the performance being enhanced.
The good news is that with McLaren conducting tests on an electric car prototype, it means the company is looking into this particular problem. It is possible that the company could come up with future batteries by utilizing the knowledge gained from Formula E races. McLaren said that it will start supplying Formula E with batteries beginning next year. These new batteries are expected to last for the whole duration of the race, something that is not possible today.
While McLaren does have a prototype, a pure EV version is still not on the horizon. However electrification is the next rational step for any automobile manufacturer. This is what is known as hybridization. McLaren believes that the next generation hybrid models it will be releasing will comprise 50% of all models sold by the year 2022. These models will not only be able to go very fast on the race track but can also regenerate immediately the needed energy.
McLaren disclosed that a purely electric model will arrive as part of the Track22 strategy implemented by the company. This model will be positioned just under the company’s flagship P1 supercar. It would be easy to think of this electric model as the 675 LT’s successor. The model is able to go from 0 to 62 mph (0 to 100 km/h) in under 3 seconds. If anything, customers should hope that price won’t come to $1.4 million (£1 million).