McLaren P1 is an EV supercar

Electrified race cars are now in vogue among automakers.

Originally car enthusiasts disparaged and mocked such vehicles, which ranged from mild hybrids like the Chevrolet Malibu with eAssist, pure EVs like the Nissan Leaf, to the immensely popular Toyota Prius hybrid.

But the emergence of the Tesla Model S, Fisker Karma, Acura NSX, and Mercedes SLS AMG Electric showed that electrified vehicles could be just as powerful – and attractive – as their greenhouse gas-emitting cousins.

The Mclaren P1 is the latest of these so-called EV supercars. Debuting at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this month, interest had been keen for weeks prior the unveiling. Now news is emerging that the P1 is set to make its racing debut at the 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed in July.

The P1 will have plenty of power to show off at the sporting event. The production – ready Mclaren P1 is a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) that utilizes a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine coupled to a powerful (and how!) electric motor. This powertrain generates over 900 horsepower and 663 lb.-ft. of torque. McLaren has designed the system so that the electric motor “kicks” in while the turbos are spooling, which prevents any so-called “turbo-lag.” Neat.

The P1 can bolt from zero to 60 mph in less than three seconds. In comparison, Porsche’s comparable EV supercar, the 918, goes at the more leisurely rate of 3.1 seconds from standstill to 60. McLaren electronically tops its supercar’s speed to 217 mph.

The Mclaren P1′s engine is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission system and is, of course, rear-wheel drive. Mclaren has been close-mouthed about certain aspects of the car like fuel economy and even battery composition. The automaker has said the batteries can be fully recharged from empty in two hours. It can also travel up to six miles on electricity alone. Not a long range. However, we don’t see potential buyers buying a P1 primarily to save on gas.

That said, Mclaren still envisions the P1 as a daily commuter. States Dan Parry-Williams, chief design engineer at McLaren, “It’s fast on the racetrack but still fast, comfortable and refined on the road. The brief was to make a refined, fuel efficient car that is faster than anything else on the racetrack but that is also as fast as anything you could use on the road while not compromising ride or comfort.”

Joel Arellano, EarthTechling