When you think of vehicle efficiency, perhaps a Toyota Prius comes to mind. But then there’s supercar efficiency.
British high-performance vehicle maker McLaren has a reputation for building fast Formula One racecars and fast street versions of those racecars. Now, with its latest model—the MP4-12C—it declares the car “will have less CO2 per horsepower than a hybrid city car.” The company revealed the MP4-12C to automotive journalists in San Jose on Oct. 28.
If the CO2-per-horsepower declaration were not backed up by the technical know-how that has won championships in virtually every major race category—Formula One, Can-Am, ALMS, to name a few—it might be cast aside on the heap of automotive hype. But the claim becomes particularly intriguing when it is attached to a sub-3-second zero-to-60 car powered by a 593-horsepower twin-turbo V8 engine. McLaren’s North American Sales Manager Peter Freiberger told Hybridcars.com that the statement was no fluke. The green philosophy of the car company—which intends to follow the MP4-12C with a string of new models or variants that will be brought out every 12 months for the next several years— is “good enough is not good.”
The aim for this world car—one-third of its estimated 1,000 annual production will come to North America—is to best its supercar competitors not only in traditional performance such as acceleration and handling, but also on the environmental front. Its superlight chassis features a combination of carbon fiber and aluminum. The engineers’ work on weight reduction led them to eliminate grams wherever they could, leading to a dry body weight of only 2,866 pounds. To save weight in every possible way, they also replaced the traditional battery with a lighter lithium-ion one. McLaren will build one lightweight aluminum 3.8-liter engine for all world markets—making sure to meet the strict emissions found in California, one of the car’s likely top markets.
When the MP4-12C—its complicated name is lost in McLaren lore of history and secret formulas—goes on sale next summer, it will retail for between $225,000 and $250,000. There will be 10 dealers in the U.S., including one in Silicon Valley. To appeal to those technological geeks, the McLaren car also will have an information system that includes a fully integrated PC with Bluetooth, and a voice-controlled media player that also incorporates a navigation system and phone. It has WLAN connectivity to transfer files from other computers. The sound system comes from Meridian and features the latest digital signal processing technology. The company didn’t release a stat for horsepower-to-decibels.