British supercar maker McLaren has had a slew of successful collaborations over the years. Remember when its partnership with Mercedes won Lewis Hamilton his first Formula 1 world title, or the consecutive F1 wins it scored with Honda? Now, it sounds like McLaren could be rekindling its relationship with BMW, in the name of electric supercars.
According to a report from Motor, Woking-based McLaren is eyeing a deal with BMW that could lead to the development of the British brand’s first all-electric supercars. If that partnership sounds familiar and exciting, it’s because BMW and McLaren have a history of doing excellent work together: In 1992, McLaren used a BMW-built V12 in the F1 supercar, which was the world’s fastest production car for nearly 15 years with a top speed of 386 km/h.
Now, it looks like the two companies could come together again to develop electric powertrains and lightweight chassis that will be used to create EV supercars of the future. Motor suggests that McLaren will work with BMW’s M division to develop essential components for “a modular all-electric sports car/supercar/hypercar.”
The site reports that a “memorandum of understanding” has been signed by the two firms. This could see BMW assist McLaren in development of an all-electric powertrain, while McLaren would share its “strengths like high-end carbon fibre applications, lightweight design and outstanding vehicle dynamics,” reports Motor.
It’s a tie up that makes perfect sense when you think about it. BMW has made some pretty formidable engines over the years, and is forging ahead with its development of electric powertrains, fitting them to models such as the new i4 and the all-new 7 Series.
McLaren, meanwhile, has built a name for itself with super lightweight cars built around carbon fibre tubs. Fun fact, those tubs are now built in Sheffield, which is 290 km from the McLaren Technology Centre and right where I grew up.
But this isn’t the first tease of an electric future at McLaren. Earlier this year, the company entered its first season of all-electric racing series Extreme E, and the firm recently announced plans to purchase the Mercedes Formula E squad.
As well as an all-electric McLaren of the future, Motor also suggests that the deal could see BMW supply engines for McLaren’s upcoming gas-powered models.
As Motor reports, “Between now and 2030, the McLaren product portfolio is unlikely to change dramatically. But the company does need a new V8 which meets EU7 and is strong enough to power future super and ultimate series hybrid models, and it must make sure the Artura can brave the F286 and the next Huracan.”
So does that mean we might one day see a BMW M-powered successor to the McLaren Speedtail? That sounds mighty exciting.
There is one potential speed bump: the ever-looming presence of the VW Group and its ambitions to enter Formula 1.
Through Audi, the VW Group has often alluded to its goal of joining F1, which even went as far as reports from Audi that it had purchased Mclaren’s F1 team. But, that’s a claim that the Woking-based firm has always denied.