McLaren’s priority remains winning “the weight race” as it enters its hybrid era
McLaren Automotive CEO Mike Flewitt owns three classic Lotus Elans, and so it may not come as a surprise that one of his team’s priorities is to make sure its products are always lighter than its competitors. From an engineering standpoint, this is a hard but very effective way of keeping the performance levels as high as Woking needs them regardless of the powertrain, as explained by Mr. Flewitt:
“Vehicle mass is the enemy of performance whether a car has a conventional internal combustion engine or a fully electrified powertrain, so winning the weight race is an absolute priority for us—and one of the reasons McLaren Automotive has invested heavily in the McLaren Composites Technology Centre, our own UK composite materials innovation and production facility.”
With the new MCTC plant now up and running, McLaren can experiment with composites to make sure its monocoques and body panels are not just lighter but also stronger, faster, and perhaps even cheaper to produce. Such new carbon-fiber technologies, combined with the usual motorsport tricks of titanium parts and polycarbonate glazing, lead to cars like the 765LT. McLaren is quick to mark down its latest track-focused supercar as 112 pounds lighter than a Ferrari 488 Pista and a whopping 377 pounds lighter than a Porsche GT2 RS. Dry weight with all the lightweight options ticked, that is.
Debuting 2–3 years after said Ferrari and Porsche, the 765LT is quoted at a very respectable 2710 pounds. However, as it gets closer to producing a fully electrified lineup as its next generation, McLaren will face a bigger challenge than cutting a maximum of 176 pounds from the already light 720S. The twin-turbo V-6 McLaren is expected to roll out will be lighter than the current 4.0-liter V-8, but adding electric motors and battery packs to the drivetrain will still take its toll.
On the plus side, the hybrid McLaren P1 is lighter than a Ferrari LaFerrari or a Porsche 918 Spyder, and with winning “the weight race” remaining a priority under Mike Flewitt’s leadership, we can expect the same from McLaren’s Sport and Super ranges of cars.