Carbon Fibre at the Heart of McLaren’s MP4-12C

25 September 2009

The McLaren MP4-12C is revealed as the first in a range of high-performance sports cars from McLaren Automotive. The MP4-12C features extensive use of carbon fibres, most notably its carbon composite chassis.

At its heart, the MP4-12C features what McLaren call the carbon ‘MonoCell’. Weighing at less than 80kg, not only does this cell help the vehicle’s overall weight reduction, the carbon fibre chassis brings high torsional rigidity, low perishability, ease of repair and extreme dimensional accuracy.

McLaren say that this inherent lack of flex means the front suspension system, which is mounted directly onto the MonoCell, requires less compromise for flex of the suspension itself, therefore making it easier for them to improve ride quality. The MonoCell has also been designed to offer greater occupant safety, acting as a safety survival cell, just like a Formula 1 car.

The carbon composite MonoCell brings McLaren additional production benefits as it is produced in a single piece, taking only four hours to complete.

“The whole 12C project is based on the concept of the MonoCell. This means that McLaren can launch into the market with greater performance than our rivals and a safer structure. To put it into perspective, if the costs and complexity of producing a McLaren F1 carbon fibre chassis are taken as a factor of 100, the 12C chassis production costs are reduced to a factor of seven or eight, without degrading the strength or quality of the carbon fibre structure. And this step-change in technology could make its way into more mainstream cars,” said Santoni, McLaren Automotive Body Structures Function Manager.

Other composite features, such as carbon ceramic brakes, were included in this design, giving increased performance and decreasing the overall weight of the car

The McLaren MP4-12C is powered by a twin-turbocharged, 3.8 litre 90° V8 engine producing around 600bhp. It will cost between £125,000 and £175,000, and will go on sale in early 2011.

“With the McLaren MP4-12C we are determined to deliver the best car in its sector by almost any measure. It is our philosophy to push what is possible in car design and engineering and bring innovation and engineering excellence to the performance car world. We have an incredibly dedicated team at McLaren who continue to drive this company to ever greater achievements, and the 12C represents the passion within, as the first of this new range of performance cars from McLaren,” concluded Ron Dennis, McLaren Automotive Chairman.

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