The McLaren Speedtail is the luxury supercar creator’s fastest-ever vehicle and uses electric power to achieve its staggering performance of a top speed of 250mph and acceleration of 0-186mph in a blistering 13 seconds.
Following the news that the Speedtail has recently completed high-speed validation tests in the United States, McLaren’s engineers have opened up about the technology behind hybrid hyper GT.
They revealed that it is that a combination of attributes, including aerodynamics and low vehicle weight, delivers the hybrid Hyper-GT’s astonishing performance. Fundamental to this is a race-bred electric drive system that incorporates pioneering battery technology to set a new benchmark for hybridized efficiency. This unlocks the Speedtail’s intense acceleration from standstill to 300km/h (186mph) in 13 seconds and maximum speed of 403km/h (250mph).
The M840TQ powertrain comprises a 4.0-liter internal combustion engine and an electric drive unit, which together develop up to 1,070PS and maximum torque of 1,150Nm. The V8 engine features technology that has evolved from McLaren’s first hybrid hypercar, the legendary McLaren P1. A new lightweight air-intake system, improved cylinder head cooling and a revised piston design contribute 757PS and 800Nm of ‘traditional’ petrol-powered output to the Speedtail.
The electric motor, which uses Formula E-derived technology, generates more than 230kW. It gives the Speedtail the highest performance installation ‒ including cooling and integration ‒ of any electric motor currently in use on a production road car. Power delivery is 8.3kW/kg, which is twice the efficiency of an average sports car.
Engineers from McLaren Applied ‒ the McLaren Group division that focuses on virtual product development, telemetry, electrification and control ‒ worked with the Speedtail Electric Drive Technology team to integrate its ground-breaking motorsport-developed inverter and DC/DC converter technology into the electric drive system, ensuring the levels of control and power management required for the hybrid Hyper-GT to realize its extraordinary performance.
The high voltage energy storage system is where the Speedtail truly innovates. A high power cylindrical cell arranged in a unique array, the 1.647kWh unit is at the cutting edge of battery technology, being extremely compact and delivering the best power-to-weight ratio of any high voltage battery available today. As an indication of how McLaren technology has advanced, the power density of this battery is four times that of the unit in the McLaren P1, providing 5.2kW/kg and an output of 270kW.
The design and integration of the battery system enables the Speedtail to achieve its maximum speed by intelligent energy deployment, with these headline figures achievable because the cells are thermally controlled by a dielectrical cooling system and permanently immersed in a lightweight, electrically insulative oil which quickly transfers heat away from the cells. This system, the first of its kind in a production road car, is highly efficient and allows the cells to run harder and for longer.