It is not often that the director of a major car company admits that it is not up to date with the latest general trend in the industry.
Jolyon Nash does not have many qualms.
Last week, in Geneva, McLaren Automotive’s global sales director said he knew “very little” about the Formula E electric car racing series that many other automotive brands (Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Porsche, Renault, to name but some) have boosted categorically since they expanded last year.
I asked him what he thought, in general, about electric transmission in the Formula Formula races. “To be frank, any opinion you have will be pretty uninformed,” Nash said. “I’m a traditionalist. I love listening to the sound of an engine running on a track. Formula E does not provide that. ”
In addition, the taciturn South African said that although half of the McLaren fleet will be hybrid within four years, the company will not produce a fully electric car in the near future. Not even a promotional version or a conceptual design exercise.
“We would not want to produce a car just to demonstrate the technology; we are not like that, “Nash said. McLaren usually launches limited and unique versions of its cars, such as Senna GTR, instead of extremely futuristic conceptual forms that are not real.
It was a rare moment of frankness on the part of a sales manager who apparently was unaffected by the attitude of the automakers to be up to the standards of others when it comes to exhibiting electrical technology. Many hesitate when asked if they will manufacture something with a fully electric transmission system and when they will do it; the concrete answers are generally affirmative.
In fact, from the most unknown brands -Nio and Remac- to traditional brands such as Corvette, Mercedes-Maybach, Porsche, Rolls-Royce and, more recently, Ferrari, all have announced plans to make concepts completely electric or are already developing them. McLaren remains determined. “In the immediate future, no,” said Nash.
While everyone else runs to show electric cars and say “me too!”, McLaren continues to focus on their relationship with their small client base, devoted and largely obsessed with racing. These are runners and F1 fans who would reject any product that sacrifices speed and athletics in the name of alternative energy.
“The [unique] experience of driving the McLaren vehicle, which is the reason why people buy Mclarens, finally has to meet customer expectations, and McLaren is not ready to give in to an electric motor,” says Ian Fletcher, principal automotive analyst at IHS Markit. The current way of thinking, at least for lovers of cars over 40 years of age, is that the quietness of electric cars and smooth, gearless acceleration – as opposed to the roar of a combustion engine – contributes to a less exciting and exciting driving experience.
“Until the technology develops enough in both power and range, I think it would be difficult to have an exciting supercar that is exclusively electric,” said Nash, who, incidentally, drives the tiny BMW i3 electric for daily transfer. “We still have not understood well how that will work.” Until then, hybrid technology and its ability to combine total power (electric batteries) with autonomy (gasoline fuel as backup) will be sufficient.