McLaren thinks synthetic fuel could save the engine as we know it

The technology could be a battery-electric alternative and still reduce emissions when taking battery production into account.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
2 min read
2020 McLaren GT
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2020 McLaren GT

A whole new fuel? Maybe.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

The automotive industry is largely focused on one area when it comes to future powertrains: battery-electric technology. A few still plant to keep a couple of eggs in the fuel-cell basket, too, but that's largely it.

Leave it to McLaren , responsible for some of the wildest supercars on the market, to champion something a little different. The firm's Chief Operating Officer, Jens Ludmann, told Autocar in a Thursday report that synthetic fuel is something McLaren is interested in.

How interested? The company plans to produce a development car that runs on synthetic fuel to showcase the technology's potential. Ludmann says the fuel would require minimal tweaks to today's internal combustion engine, and it'd still be much better for the environment from a CO2 standpoint. Ludmann says synthetic fuel is particularly viable if companies look at CO2 production included in not only an EV's lifecycle, but the EV's battery production. The fact is, building batteries still isn't that great for the environment as we continue to source more materials for the energy storage devices.

McLaren let its engineers run free with the hyper-limited 765LT

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The McLaren executive says this synthetic fuel could be very clean, produced with solar energy even, and easily transported for refueling.

The catch is even Ludmann doesn't think synthetic fuel would be an outright replacement for the full-speed-ahead approach to EVs. For starters, battery technology is here today and continues to improve. Research and technology surrounding synthetic fuel remains in infancy. McLaren didn't immediately respond to Roadshow's request for comment to perhaps learn more specifics on the development car.

Nevertheless, McLaren wants to see the potential, and frankly, so do I. Perhaps there's more of a future in store for the internal combustion engine than we think.

Watch this: The McLaren 765LT has some tricks up its sleeve