Horsepower wars have been going on for awhile now. Automakers have been competing to see who can make more power for decades. When luxury sedans have more than 600 hp and are capable of hitting 60 mph in under three seconds, you know that the horsepower wars have reach fever pitch. But they can only go on for so long, as cars can only get so powerful before it’s just absurdity. Something has to change and McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt seems to think that the new war should be about weight.
Making cars lighter means that they need less power to attain the same levels of speed and performance. If they need less power, they also get better efficiency, reducing emissions and fuel consumption. So the lighter a car gets, the better. And that’s what McLaren’s Flewitt thinks car companies should start pushing each other to do, make cars lighter.
McLaren has been one of the industry’s pioneers when it come to lightweight chassis technology. All of its supercars use a carbon fiber monocoque, making them ultra light and stiff. BMW is also one of the brands that’s doing a lot to lighten its cars. The BMW i3 and i8 have carbon fiber passenger cells and cars like the 7 Series and 8 Series have carbon fiber used in their chassis.
The problem with carbon fiber in a chassis is that it’s expensive. So automakers need to push themselves and each other to develop new means of developing carbon fiber, and using other lightweight materials, to make cars lighter. And the more car companies push the envelope of lightweight technology, the more other competitors will do the same. That will lead to a lightweight war among the brands that will only improve the entire industry.
Plus, it will benefit enthusiasts as well. Sure, power figures will go down but performance will either stay the same or go up and cars will begin to handle significantly better as curb weights go down. The lack of weight in a sports car helps to increase dynamics and fun-factor. Sure, a BMW M3 is a blast but on a twisty back road I’d take a Mazda MX-5 over it every day of the week. That’s because the MX-5 weighs as much as medium-sized flee and changes direction with a fluidity that heavier sports cars could only dream of.
So Flewitt has a good point and we hope that other automakers hear his plea. The lighter cars get the better and that should be the next “war” brands start fighting.