McLaren unveils next-gen carbon-fiber tub

McLaren’s current crop of supercars offer dramatically different levels of performance but they all share a common blueprint.

That blueprint calls for a carbon-fiber monocoque structure for the passenger cell, often referred to as a “tub,” to which aluminum subframes holding all the mechanical bits are attached.

For its next generation of cars, McLaren has a new carbon-fiber tub, one designed from the onset to support hybrid powertrains. This is important as every new McLaren going forward will feature some form of electrification.

McLaren carbon-fiber tub production process

McLaren carbon-fiber tub production process

Unveiled on Tuesday, the new tub is lighter and more flexible than the MonoCell it replaces, according to Mike Flewitt, head of McLaren’s road car division. The MonoCell made its debut a decade ago in the 12C and was modified for special models like the P1 and Speedtail.

“The new ground-breaking vehicle architecture is every bit as revolutionary as the MonoCell chassis we introduced with the company’s first car, the 12C, when we first embarked on making production vehicles a decade ago,” Flewitt said in a statement.

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The first model based on the new tub will launch in 2021. McLaren hasn’t said what car it will be, though we already know it will be the first member of the next-generation Sports Series range. Prototypes for the car have been testing in public for over a year.

McLaren Sports Series hybrid spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

McLaren Sports Series hybrid spy shots – Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

Although we know the new tub will support a V-8-based hybrid powertrain, it’s possible a V-6-based hybrid powertrain is also planned. It’s rumored the V-6 setup will feature in the next Sports Series.

The tub will be built at McLaren’s carbon-fiber hub in Sheffield, United Kingdom, and then transported to the automaker’s car plant in Woking, located approximately 173 miles to the south. The Sheffield team showed off a prototype for the tub a year ago.

McLaren has a long history with using carbon fiber in its cars, with the company’s racing side being the first to introduce the material into Formula One construction with the MP4/1 of 1981. Since then, every McLaren, for road and racing, has featured the lightweight stuff. This is in contrast to main rival Ferrari which favors aluminum because of the material’s relative ease when it comes to production and maintenance or repairs, despite it being heavier and less stiff than carbon fiber.

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