Avid readers of the current automotive sphere might have noticed that internal combustion engine cars have plateaued this past decade, with most of the innovations brought to light centering around an increase in speed, power and a reduction in sprint times. And even then, the ‘horsepower war’ has only yielded better performance and not really a whole bunch else, aside from maybe aerodynamics. Mclaren Automotive is looking to put an end to it, at least for the cars coming out of Woking that is.
McLaren have announced that they will be moving their focus away from such things as speed and ‘performance’, which is fine given the marque’s previous efforts in that field. However, the reason Woking is going head first into the Atkins diet is because it is preparing for electrification. Hybrid components aren’t light and McLaren Automotive is a performance car company, and so it would make much sense for them to be exploring new ways of reducing mass while keeping performance figures competitive.
“Reducing vehicle weight is at the centre of our strategy for the next generations of McLaren supercars. We are already class-leading and committed to further driving down weight in order to be in the best possible position to maximise the efficiency and performance of hybridised models to be introduced by 2025.
“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” said Mike Flewitt, Chief Executive Officer, McLaren Automotive.
The Surrey-based manufacturer has already had some success in this respect with the recently outed 765LT model, which boasts a weight reduction of 80kg to achieve a dry weight of just 1,229kg. it may not sound like much, but it’s a step in the right direction. The fourth chapter in McLaren’s Longtail saga accomplishes this with the extensive of use of lightweight carbon composite materials and so on.
The meticulous weight loss program on the 765LT goes beyond stripping out the interior and omitting driver comforts like air conditioning and in-car entertainment (which can be reinstated at no cost). Rather, the Longtail uses a Monocage II carbon core (just like the 720S) but with exterior body panels and aerodynamic components all made from the same lightweight, ultra-strong material. Even the seats and centre tunnel are made from the same thing.
The weight saving exercise continues on the Longtail. The glass on the side windows are thinner than on the 720S while the rear windscreen is a motorsport-style polycarbonate glazing. Not even the mechanicals of the car were spared from this exercise. The gearbox uses lightweight materials taken from the world of Formula One and the exhaust system is made completely from titanium, which is some 40 percent lighter than a comparable steel system, the brand claims.
The suspension system has been given the once over as well. It features “motorsport-derived ‘helper’ springs that negate the need for a heavier, dual-rate sprint arrangement”. The car also gets lightweight wheels, bespoke Pirelli P-Zero Trofeo R tyres and titanium wheel bolts, which together add up to a saving of 22kg in unsprung mass. Which is huge.
McLaren’s weight saving exercise is hardly futile as the weight reduction has had an enormous impact on the way the 765LT performs and helps the brand clear a pathway to electrification. Our first taste of this should come when the marque outs its under-development electrified twin-turbo V6 Sport Series model. Watch this space.
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