McLaren's Point Of View On Supercars
|   Saturday, July 21, 2012
According to Autocar, McLaren still has a strong interest in how the future of its supercars will look like. A few design proposals have managed to pass initial filters and are actually being considered by the company, or at least will serve as an inspiration source.

In 2011, a design competition took in students from the Royal College of Art and asked them to portray a minimalist McLaren supercar. The "Autopure" competition was supervised by McLaren design boss Frank Stephenson, the same person who said previously that work on a fully re-imagined minimalist supercar could be undertaken before the end of the decade.


The students had to start from the company's belief of "everything for a reason," go through the "social and environmental trends for future vehicles" and ultimately "imagine a small vehicle that encapsulates the brand."

5 students managed to pull through and had their designs selected for the final steps of the competition, which involved transforming their ideas into highly detailed 3D models. The winning design was by Teeravit Hanharutaivan and was personally selected by Stephenson. His MP4-S is a single-seater designed for "urban and track racing" use. It was built around a plastic tub reinforced with carbon fiber. The car he envisioned is so radical that it doesn't even have a dashboard, relying on a head-up display instead.

Marianna Merenmies' McLaren JetSet was also among the finalists. She said her design focused on aerodynamic efficiency: "The challenge was to create a sustainable vehicle that would appeal to the high-end customers typical to McLaren cars." She describes the JetSet as "an ultra-light single-seater with extensive use of carbon fiber in the chassis, body and wheels." The vehicle would be propelled by an electric motor, have a drag coefficient of 0.2, and have 3.7 m in length and 1.03 in height. She even thought of a price tag of about 50,000 British pounds.

Marianna Merenmies was not at her first attempt of designing. Her previous work took her from Fuore Design in Barcelona in 2001 to the Mitsubishi Pajero Evo concept, after which she ended up at VW where her Up city car was one of four designs that made it through to the finals, which were judged by the VW board.

The reason for all that is that in 2011 Stephenson revealed that McLaren higher-ups have planned a range of new models to be launched in between 2015 and 2020. For that end, the company has employed a designer specifically to look at the future look of the supercar after that point. He believes that his vision is best described as a super-Ariel Atom and that it would fit the needs of a new Internet-grown generation that does away with a good degree of old traditions.

He said that the company's own approaches have explored similar avenues. Stephenson believes that future cars could actually do away with the dashboard, as new projections and holographs start to be developed. As for the move towards smaller cars: "It's about making more of less. It's our job to push automotive technology — to make the car safer, lighter, more powerful, more efficient, eco-friendly and more fun to drive."
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