It’s not long ago that McLaren’s CEO Mike Flewitt told the UK’s Autocar the company’s future would see a next generation of sports cars embracing hybrid and autonomous technology. Now the McLaren Automotive boss has been putting further flesh on the bone about the future of the British supercar brand.
It had been proposed a few months ago that the Super Series and Sports Series would become fully hybrid by as soon as 2022, but speaking at last month’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, Flewitt admitted that won’t now happen until 2025. And if anyone was expecting a fully self-driving McLaren anytime soon they’d better not hold their breath, as the McLaren chief poured at least a little cold water on that idea.
The company is set to come up with a single hybrid powertrain, but like its ubiquitous 3.8-liter V-8 petrol engine, McLaren will be offering the hybrid in a number of different power outputs. Although it was admitted the new powertrain would be: “designed… to have more differentiation than we have had out of the current package,” Flewitt stopped short of confirming the hybrid would be based around a petrol V-6 as most observers expect. There will be different levels of hybrid performance depending on whether a model is designed more for the road or the track. The different levels of performance will be achieved by tweaking the electric part of the system, and not the car’s ICE, and batteries are being worked on at the moment that can manage 30 minutes of use on the track.
At the moment there are five entry-tier Sports Series cars in the McLaren portfolio and the 720S sitting on its own in the Super Series. The hybridisation could be being pushed back from 2022 to 2025 because the company now plans to introduce no less than 18 new models and derivatives. Even if the current range is completely overhauled and cars we already know about are counted, that still appears to leave 10 new models or offshoots to be launched in the next seven years, and that’s a lot for an automaker such as McLaren.
Even though we don’t know what new and offshoot models the company has planned, a driverless model won’t be among them. Speaking at Goodwood, Flewitt spoke about “augmentation’ technology” instead of “autonomous” technology, and that’s because he sees the focus for McLaren being on helping the driver behind the wheel instead of taking the wheel for the driver.