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McLaren Enters Electric Car Market, But Not as a Supercar Maker

published: 2023-03-31 13:51

As a leading luxury automotive manufacturer and one of the electrification pioneers, McLaren has surprisingly yet to roll out any all-electric cars. According to McLaren Applied, however, the supercar maker is already striding forward on the track of vehicle electrification.

To a supercar manufacturer, going electric is a mixed feeling of excitement and fear. Indeed, electric vehicles can achieve great performance with ease, but they have posed a threat to the existing barrier of engine technologies. Moreover, electrification represents a heavy investment in research and development. McLaren has yet to roll out any all-electric cars. Reportedly, the automaker’s first all-electric model will not be announced until 2030. During the period, nonetheless, the supercar brand does not plan to give up any chance to make money.

But how can an automaker make money without selling cars? The answer lies in its flagship auto part products.

▲The McLaren Artura is a hybrid supercar with a 7.4-kwh lithium-ion battery

According to Stephen Lambert, head of electrification at McLaren Applied, the company believes that the vehicle electrification trend can be divided in four waves. The first wave rose when Elon Musk announced the debut of the Tesla Roadster, and we are now on the second one, where automakers worldwide are racing to roll out more products and striving for large-scale adoption.

McLaren is focused on the third and fourth waves. It believes that the third wave will rise when automakers care more about car efficiency. Those whose cars can travel a long distance at a low cost with a small battery will become the most profitable players.

This is where McLaren believes that its IPG5 EV inverter will help it make a fortune.

“The inverter really is the heart of that driver experience,” said Lambert. An inverter works by extracting energy from the battery and directing it to the EV’s motor, enabling drivers to achieve precise motor control. “Which is why most people prefer the driving experience provided by the Porsche Taycan to that by Tesla.”

McLaren Applied claims that its inverter has higher power density than all the other commercialized competing products. Its proprietary design, compatibility with 800V architecture and use of silicon carbide (third-Gen semiconductor) enable exceptional performance and efficiency.

▲ McLaren’s IPG5 EV inverter features up to 400 kW fast charging and a high SiC content (Credit: McLaren Applied)

The IPG5 could help McLaren gain an advantage in the fourth wave, where car owners are likely to pay more attention to driving experiences.

As the electric vehicle market continues to grow, consumers will start to seek more alternatives. McLaren believes that even a different choice of auto parts like inverters for EVs will lead to a whole different driving experience.

The manufacturer’s strong confidence in the IPG5 comes from partnerships with various luxury carmakers including Porsche as well as Formula E and Extreme E racing teams, all of which adopt its inverter. Therefore, McLaren believes that it can provide products capable of “beating Tesla”.

That being said, this is an interesting and bold assumption, as McLaren and Tesla have completely different opinions on what the fourth wave of vehicle electrification will look like. Tesla holds that humans will no longer need to drive by themselves in the future, which would eliminate the concept of a driving experience. This belief, however, contradicts that of sports car manufacturers who have always been striving to provide the best driving experience.

As automakers are racing to build supply chains and invest in new factories, McLaren’s so-called third wave has come closer to us. Whether there will be a fourth wave depends on how many super-rich people in the world love driving.

 (Credit of the first photo: McLaren)


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