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McLaren’s hybrid future: Local boss talks Speedtail and hybridisation

By Chris Thompson, 26 Sep 2018 News

McLaren hybrid future Speedtail and hybridisation news

Asia Pacific managing director George Biggs talks about McLaren’s hybridisation philosophy

At the recent launch of the 2019 McLaren 600LT, MOTOR spoke with George Biggs about the future of McLaren’s powertrains, as performance cars become more and more electric.

Asked if there’s been any backlash or lack of enthusiasm for the potential for McLaren to embrace electrification, Biggs said McLaren’s approach is very enthusiast-focused.

“It’s something we’re very conscious of and it’s something we’re very clear about.

“Hybridisation for us is – and sure there are some regulations we need to meet – but that we’re only going to use hybridisation if we can increase performance.”

Of course, McLaren’s been successful in turning electrification into a ‘plus’ for its cars in the past. The hybrid McLaren P1 is considered part of the ‘Hypercar Holy Trinity’ alongside hybrid rivals from Ferrari in the LaFerrari, and the Porsche 918 Spyder.

“So when you saw it in P1 it was all about filling in that torque lag and providing a straight-line experience in terms of acceleration. A number of customers were just blown away by that.

“It’s all about performance. It’s all about ‘how can you increase that driver experience?’

“And when I say performance, that’s not just straight-line speed. It’s also how the car feeds back to you, how do the driving dynamics with a hybrid powertrain feel – can you enjoy that experience?

“That’s what we’re very focused on.”

We briefly discussed the Speedtail, though Biggs was unable to reveal much about the upcoming hybrid ‘hyper GT’. He did however say that other models will soon join it as hybrid supercars and sports cars.

“With the [Track22] business plan, we’ve laid out the life-cycle of our products, and we’ll be renewing some of those and when they do, they’ll likely include hybrids.”

MOTOR has previously reported that the BP23/ Speedtail is in with a good chance to show up locally, as McLaren works hard to adhere to regulations around the world.

Biggs tells us that Australia isn’t actually much different in terms of difficulty adhering to laws, after all, the top-exit exhausts on the 600LT are road-legal here.

“If you look at all of our models, we make sure that we offer them to a global base. Australia is one of our most important markets, so we would like to bring it here.”

He says the central driving position shouldn’t prove too challenging as a design element to be approved.

“The unique nature of [The Speedtail] means we’re still working through, but I would hope to see that car here.

“We’re under a number of different regulatory environments in different markets, and Australia is very similar in that we respect and work through [ADRs].

“It’s not particularly unique, it’s just a case of going through that process.”

When we asked about whether there were any all-electric McLarens on the horizon, Biggs said it’s something McLaren hasn’t come to a decision with yet.

“We’ve said in our previous business plan, Track22, that we were having a look at a prototype that was all-electric, just to see how it drove and how it felt.

“That was very much, and is an ongoing, experimental phase to see how you can make it feel like a McLaren with an all-electric powertrain.

“We’ve not yet come to a conclusion in terms of what’s actually coming from the production side of things.”