McLaren Has an EV Supercar in the Works, and Here's What We Know

mclaren bp23 teaser image
Details on McLaren's Planned EV SupercarMcLaren
  • McLaren says it's working on a powertrain for an EV supercar, with development taking place alongside gas-powered models, not as a direct replacement for them.

  • After all, the future is coming, and "As a company, we need to be prepared," says CEO Michael Leiters.

  • The current target is to match the weight of a plug-in-hybrid alternative, not just add huge power.

There's a limited number of fully electric exotic sports cars that have reached the market, and they have struggled to raise interest among super-rich buyers. Last month Rimac admitted it hadn't been able to sell all of its proposed run of 150 of the Nevera and that any successor is unlikely to be a pure EV. But that hasn't stopped McLaren from believing it can do better. While the image at the top of this story is an old teaser to the BP23 hybrid hypercar, McLaren CEO Michael Leiters shared some new details with Car and Driver regarding what to expect from an electric supercar.

"We have started and are working intensively on a pure electric powertrain," Leiters told us last month when we spoke about the future of the company. "This should define how an [EV] supercar should be... I am convinced that the first EV supercar will be a McLaren. We understand what it means to make supercars, if we are not able to do that then nobody else will be able to."


Leiters admits that many McLaren buyers are not clamoring for fully electric models but says that an increasing number are expressing interest. The company has no plans to stop using combustion engines, with the V-6 plug-in-hybrid Artura Spider being launched later this year, and a mightier V-8 plug-in powertrain set to follow in the successor for the current 750S and likely also a range-topping halo model in the spirit of the former P1. Work on the EV is going on in parallel.

"As a company, we have to be prepared," Leiters explains. "What happens if one day the market changes, and the majority of customers are asking for [these cars]? It depends on the attributes. If you can build a really engaging, emotional product it can work."

The technical challenges are considerable, Leiters admits, especially as he is determined McLaren will take a different route to performance than simply creating huge power.

"We have to say that today the technology is not fully mature," he says. "There are several reasons for that, and the first is weight. Light weight is so much the core of McLaren that we can't compromise on that. But second is range, both normally and especially if you go on a circuit, which a McLaren should, at which point it becomes very limited. We don't want to compensate with a bigger battery, because that would make the car heavier."

The challenge Leiters has set is to create an EV supercar that will carry a minimal weight penalty over one of the company's existing products. "For me, a supercar that weighs two tons is no supercar," he says. "It is easier to have a better power output to increase the performance. This is longitudinal performance, if you like: acceleration. But the better question is, what is the lateral performance? You cannot deliver that if the weight is too high."

How close could an EV McLaren really get to the mass of the existing 3300-pound plug-in Artura?

"Very close, very close indeed," says Leiters. "That's the target."

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