As the sun begins to set on the internal combustion engine, manufacturers big and small are switching their attention to batteries and electric motors – even low-volume supercar makers like McLaren.
And while Ferrari claims all of its new cars will be hybrid from 2019 onwards, British rival McLaren is said to already have a fully-electric, zero-emissions supercar in the works.
According to unnamed sources speaking to Autocar, McLaren is planning to launch an all-electric supercar that must "perform like the 675LT" – one of the fastest, most powerful and positively reviewed McLaren road cars ever made.
For context, the 675LT is a 666-horsepower supercar powered by a twin-turbo V8 engine. It can accelerate from 0-62mph (100km/h) in 2.9 seconds and has a top speed of 205mph. At the time of publication it holds the Top Gear test track lap record.
Although there is no launch date for the electric McLaren, the source says it will arrive sometime after the limited-edition, three-seat hypercar – codenamed the BP23 – arrives in 2018. And before that the company is expected to reveal a replacement to its last range-topper, the hybrid P1. That, known internally as the P15, is expected later in 2017 and will have a hybrid powertrain consisting of a petrol engine and electric motor.
Hybrid engines are also expected to be fitted to the predecessors of the 570 (due in 2020) and the new 720S (due in 2021), the source said.
McLaren has previously said it is working on an electric car, but only as a test bed to better understand electric drivetrains and help the Woking firm meet its own goal of offering as many hybrids as petrol cars in its lineup by 2023.
Now, the report claims, McLaren will build five examples of the all-electric car and offer them to its most loyal customers as part of the development process of future electric vehicles.
The company, which, if we excuse the limited-run F1 of the Nineties, has only been building road cars on any meaningful scale since 2011, is no stranger to battery power.
From 2018, the firm's McLaren Applied Technologies division will produce batteries for all Formula E teams competing in the 2018/2019 season. This will be the first season where cars must complete each race with one battery, rather than current format where drivers switch to a fully charged car halfway through.