Charging ahead: How McLaren Applied is leading the way in the electrification race
Having already led the electrification of motorsport, McLaren Applied is looking to accelerate the drive to net zero motoring through optimised energy solutions, power delivery and technology innovation. Jonny Williamson journalist for The Manufacturer sat down with Head of Electrification, Stephen Lambert, to learn how the future of mainstream EV development has its roots in the starting grid.
McLaren Applied is clearly very active in motorsport, how does that experience and knowledge map to your ambitions or the automotive industry?
Stephen Lambert: We’ve been focusing on electrification for almost 10 years and been involved in almost all major associated technologies – motors, inverters, DC-DC converters, batteries, software and systems.
When you supply the entire field, like we now do for batteries and have done previously with E-motors in Formula E, what you deliver can’t just push the envelope in terms of how powerful or light it is, it’s also got to be reliable. A failure of any description is not acceptable.
As such, we understand on a granular level how failures happen and how to optimise performance, reliability and durability, and we take all that learning into our automotive products.
In terms of road electrification, the first wave was around the mid-2000s with the emergence of companies all looking to do something different. Some of those companies, Tesla for example, survived and indeed thrived; some, like van manufacturer Modec for example, fell by the wayside.
We’re currently in the second wave, where the big OEMs are taking it seriously and have either already launched electric models or soon will be. Today, they are competing primarily on just having an EV in the market.
In the near future, it won’t be enough to simply have an EV in the market, so the third wave will be around competing on efficiency. That’s why we’re focusing on inverter technologies.
Inverters sit at the heart of the electrified powertrain transforming DC voltage from the battery into an AC supply for the electric motor. The right inverter enables you to optimise the drivetrain and increase your overall system efficiency by between 5% to 10%.
The latest generation of our inverter platform combines a number of key technologies to provide a faster, more efficient and lightweight drivetrain that delivers faster charging, higher speeds and longer range.
One change in technology is moving to 800V which enables fast charging; the other is using silicon carbide, a new disruptive technology that is going to be game changing from an efficiency perspective.