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McLaren confirms having an all-electric supercar test mule, still not satisfied with performance

Virtually every supercar maker is incorporating some form of an electric powertrain in their lineup, but McLaren isn’t quite ready to go all-electric yet.

The British automaker confirmed having an all-electric supercar test mule, but it is not yet satisfied with the performance to bring it to production.

Dan Parry-Williams, McLaren’s engineering design director, told Autocar this week:

“We’ve got a pure EV [electric vehicle] mule and part of the reason for that is to ask how we can deliver driver engagement in a fully electric world. But there’s still quite a journey from here to there in terms of our products.”

McLaren ventured into hybrid powertrains before and they did confirm that an all-electric version of the P1 or P1 GTR is under consideration, but it’s the first time that they confirmed having a working all-electric test mule.

But Parry-Williams’ new comments are now casting doubts on the automaker’s ambitions to go all-electric:

 “Let’s say you want to drive on track for half an hour. If that was an EV, that car would have over 500 miles of [road] 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.”

It sounds like they are still more invested in hybrids:

“You can potentially manage [a flat battery] with a niche car. If you exhaust the battery but then have to do one recharging lap, that strikes me as being okay. 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.”

McLaren plans for half of their sales to be hybrids by 2022.

Electrek’s Take

The ability to perform on race tracks is definitely a valid factor limiting all-electric powertrains for supercars.

I’m disappointed that McLaren is not more enthusiastic about solving the problem since they have a great opportunity to work on it, considering their engineering group won the contract to supply the batteries for the next-gen Formula E race cars.

All-electric vehicles are currently perfect for short bursts of power, but a constant high power output is hard on the battery pack and other power electronics.

Yet, several automakers are pushing the segment to go battery-only, especially newcomers like Nio and Rimac.

Then there’s the next-gen Tesla Roadster, which pushes the bar even higher for all supercars in many aspects, but Tesla didn’t elaborate on the vehicle’s capacity to sustain power for longer periods of time.

It’s one of the last aspects of motoring where EVs still need to prove themselves and maybe the new Roadster will take care of it if established supercar makers don’t.

What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.

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