Forget the power race, we should enter a weight race, says McLaren CEO


Today saw Mike Flewitt, CEO of McLaren Automotive, call for the “power race”, a rivalry among OEMs that is resulting in ever-growing engine power outputs, become a “weight race” that would see cars become lighter and more efficient in the future, bringing benefits in terms of vehicle dynamics, as well as fuel efficiency. He also declared that the UK could become a world leader in lightweight automotive materials.

McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt. His focus on lightweighting is not new for McLaren, as the company introduced the very first carbon fiber chassis into Formula 1 in 1981, and into a road car in 1993: every racing car, sports car and supercar the company makes is based on carbon fiber construction

Speaking to automotive leaders and policy makers at the SMMT industry summit in London, Flewitt stated, “We now have a fantastic opportunity for the UK to be at the very forefront of a new automotive ‘weight race’ that can help achieve increasingly tough environmental targets. While McLaren has a long history in using lightweight materials to boost vehicle performance, it’s something we are also heavily investing in as part of our future with the opening later this year of the brand-new McLaren Composites Technology Centre in Yorkshire. It will lead to innovations in the technology going into our cars and not only provide a significant boost to that region, to jobs and the supply chain but also to the UK’s reputation for innovation.

Right from the initial vehicle design stage, McLaren engineers have a real focus on stripping out unnecessary weight. An example of this approach is McLaren’s Senna model, the doors of which weigh less than 10kg each, and its lightweight paint formulation (the company’s own creation), which is designed specially to reduce the volume of liquid needed. The result of such innovations is a sub-1,200kg dry weight for the Senna.

“It is clear to us that to be successful in lightweighting, industry and government need to continue to work closely to ensure we all capitalize on the benefits for the sector, for the UK in general and also for vehicle owners who will increasingly demand more efficient products that deliver the driving attributes they expect,” added Flewitt.

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Adam divides his time as an editor between the worlds of aviation and motoring. These worlds may seem a little diverse today, but autonomous technology and future urban mobility is bringing them ever-closer. Adam is also chairman of the Vehicle Dynamics International Awards.

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