Looks like McLaren are pretty wary of electric supercars, for now
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The race to go electric is an interesting one, with Tesla — like or loathe them — underlining how potent EV power-trains can be in both their current cars as well as their planned future releases.
The most jaw-dropping of these, undoubtedly, is the Roadster. Slated for a 2020 debut, it's claimed to be capable of a 400km/h top speed, and a 1000km range. Big numbers for sure.
And there are others, too. Rimrac's Concept Two, revealed at Geneva just the other day, leaps to 100km/h in just 1.85 seconds. Then at the other end of the scale is the BMW i8 — a bit long in the tooth, but still a futuristic looking thing today.
But not all manufacturers are quite prepared to make this same dive; the latest to declare it being McLaren.
While speaking at the Geneva Motor Show, McLaren director of global sales Jolyon Nash spoke rather candidly about the whole thing. This discussion began with some shade thrown in the direction of the FIA Formula E series, followed by this;
“To be quite frank, whatever thoughts I’ve got will be quite uneducated. I’m a traditionalist. I love to hear the sound of an engine going around a track. Formula E doesn’t provide that,” he said.
It's a somewhat odd comment, given that McLaren's 'Applied Technologies' division are actually the official, exclusive battery suppliers of the Formula E (note that they and McLaren Automotive are different divisions).
Kiwi Formula E ace Mitch Evans. Photo / Getty Images
“Until the technology develops sufficiently for both power and range, I think it would be hard to have an exciting supercar that is pure electric,” he added.
“We haven’t quite got our heads around how that’s going to work.”
There's a technical discussion here about the current progression of battery technology — how environmentally friendly lithium mining and extraction is, how accessible charging infrastructure is across global markets, yada yada yada. But I'm probably not equipped to have a say in that fight...
What I will say is that Palmer's desire for an "exciting supercar" is honourable, in a time when manufacturers appear happy to trade fun factor for outright speed or fuel efficiency. Likewise, as a manufacturer that already utilises hybrid technology, there's a strong chance that McLaren are already working on some EV tech ... perhaps they're just not keen to share it.
Regardless, McLaren are worth watching. After all they've already pledged to produce 15 new models by 2022 — making the marque one of the busiest supercar manufacturers of the moment.