McLaren F1 Creator Plans EV Pivot in Case Big Engines Go Extinct

Even Gordon Murray, the British designer of Formula One race cars and father of the record-setting McLaren F1, is joining much of the rest of the auto industry in turning his attention to the electric era.

Gordon Murray Group, whose founder and chairman left McLaren in 2005 to design and develop his own supercars, is developing a platform that could be used for mid-size electric hatchbacks and SUVs, he said in an interview. The effort to license the underpinnings to other carmakers is part of a plan to invest 300 million pounds ($424 million) over the next five years in a slew of ventures, including a new headquarters and electronics business unit.

The closely held group is pursuing the EV effort alongside activities involving 12-cylinder engines. “We’re hanging on like mad to the world’s last V-12,” Murray said in the interview.

McLaren F1 Creator Plans EV Pivot in Case Big Engines Go Extinct

The pivot by Murray is just the latest reverberation in the racing world as the auto industry switches from combustion to battery power. Daimler AG last year reduced its ownership in the Mercedes-Benz Formula One team and is tapping its racing unit to collaborate with its AMG division on electric sports cars. Renault SA and Lotus Cars are developing a battery-powered sports car in the wake of their F1 team takeover years earlier. And McLaren, which is gradually going electric while also trying to fix its finances, reached a deal late last year to sell up to a third of its racing unit.

Murray’s firm unveiled its 2.4 million-pound T.50 supercar last year and is on track to begin deliveries of the model in 2022, with all 100 of the production run having sold out in 48 hours.

McLaren F1 Creator Plans EV Pivot in Case Big Engines Go Extinct

Its next supercar models, code-named Project 2 and 3, which will be cheaper than the T.50. The company will again build no more than 100 units -- and both will run on big combustion engines.

“We will continue to create the pinnacle of driver’s cars -- with V-12 petrol power -- as long as the regulations allow,” Murray said. “And in the future, we will develop our own hybrid and electric powertrains.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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