McLaren advocates synthetic fuel as alternative to EVs

McLaren is advancing plans to create a development car that runs on synthetic fuel to prove the technology’s validity as an alternative to battery-electric vehicles for lowering the ecological impact of motoring, COO Jens Ludmann has revealed.

While the project is still in the planning stage, Ludmann revealed that the company believes synthetic fuels can be a viable alternative to electric power if the production of batteries is included as part of an EV’s total CO2 impact.

Ludmann said: “The technology around synthetic fuels is still being developed, but if you consider that it can be produced using solar energy, easily transported and then pumped [into cars] as we know today, there are potential benefits in terms of emissions and practicality that I’m keen to explore.

“Today’s engines would need only small modifications, and I would like to see this technology get some more airtime.” However, Ludmann stressed that he doesn’t envisage synthetic fuel engines replacing battery-electric vehicles.

“It’s too hard to say with certainty how far off synthetic fuel is from reaching production reality,” he said, “whereas battery technology is here. Then you also have the potential to combine synthetic fuel with a hybrid system, which would make it cleaner still.

“I’m not saying this to hold back battery technology but rather to highlight that there could be valid alternatives that we should consider.”