McLaren reveals new carbon chassis designed for hybrids
McLaren has today revealed the flexible, lightweight carbon-fibre vehicle architecture that will underpin its next generation of supercars, ahead of the launch of its first mainstream hybrid next year.
Designed, developed and produced at the manufacturer’s new £50 million Composites Technology Centre (MCTC) in Sheffield, the as-yet-unnamed carbon-fibre platform implements innovative techniques to remove excess mass, while also further bolstering structural integrity and occupant safety. McLaren hasn’t built a car without a carbon-fibre chassis since the M6 GT in 1981, and is continuing this trend into its second decade of series production.
The new architecture follows in the wake of the MonoCell, which debuted on the MP4-12C 10 years ago this week. The one-piece carbon-composite passenger cell featured Formula 1-derived technology and was constructed using resin transfer moulding processes, which cut the process time by 90 per cent and allowed McLaren to build more cars than it would have been able to otherwise.
The following MonoCell II was introduced for the 570S and used for the subsequent 570GT, 540C and 600LT, while another version, the MonoCell II-T, ‘T’ standing for Touring’, was introduced for the McLaren GT. The McLaren P1, 720S and Senna, meanwhile, have used a different carbon-fibre architecture known as the Monocage, with Monocage I, Monocage II and Monocage III respectively.
While the new platform will feature on the first series production McLaren hybrid from 2021, it has been designed to enable McLaren to transition to 100 per cent electrified supercars. That’s right, there may at some point be a McLaren EV.
CEO of the British manufacturer Mike Flewitt commented: “The new ground-breaking vehicle architecture is every bit as revolutionary as the MonoCell chassis we introduced with the company’s first car, the 12C, when we first embarked on making production vehicles a decade ago.
“This new, ultra-lightweight carbon fibre chassis boasts greater structural integrity and higher levels of quality than ever before with our new MCTC facility quickly becoming recognised as a global centre of excellence in composite materials science and manufacturing.
“Our advanced expertise in light weight composites processes and manufacturing combined with our experience in cutting-edge battery technology and high-performance hybrid propulsion systems means we are ideally placed to deliver to customers levels of electrified high-performance motoring that until now have simply been unattainable.
“For us, light-weighting and electrification go hand-in-hand to achieve better performance as well as more efficient vehicles.”