There are new details on McLaren's ongoing quest to build an all-electric supercar. Autocar reports that the specialty carmaker has been testing an EV mule to evaluate driver engagement and has discovered it's still a big leap to fully electrifying a track car.
The biggest stumbling block remains the battery technology and the enormous energy demands of track racing.
"Let's say you want to drive on a track for half an hour," Dan Parry-Williams, McLaren's engineering design director, told Autocar. "If that was an EV, that car would have over 500 miles of EV range, and it would be flat as a pancake at the end. The energy required to do really high performance on track is staggering. And then you have to recharge it." He notes that the technology is improving but adds that "there's a lot more investment" going into range-extending energy-dense batteries than into the kind of power density needed for supercar performance.
McLaren has been talking about making fully electric versions of its cars for a while now, but it sounds like a pure EV hypercard is still a ways off. Meanwhile, expect it to focus on hybrids: McLaren plans to have half of its fleet feature hybrid powertrains by 2022. Its P1 already has a hybrid powertrain, as will the forthcoming BP23.
"You can potentially manage (a flat battery) with a niche car," Parry-Williams told Autocar. "If you exhaust the battery but then have to do one recharging lap, that strikes me as being OK. But if you haven't got an on-board generator (and) you've got a full EV, you haven't got the luxury of doing that."