McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt believes the “horsepower race” will be replaced with the “weight race” in the future, where manufacturers will focus on using lighter materials and cutting out as much unnecessary weight as possible for better efficiency.

Speaking at the 2018 SMMT International Automotive Summit, Flewitt said this will help brands meet stricter emissions regulations. “We now have a fantastic opportunity for the UK to be at the very forefront of a new automotive ‘weight race’ that can help achieve increasingly tough environmental targets,” said Flewitt.

“While McLaren has a long history in using lightweight materials to boost vehicle performance, it’s something we are also heavily investing in as part of our future with the opening later this year of the brand-new McLaren Composites Technology Centre in Yorkshire. It will lead to innovations in the technology going into our cars and not only provide a significant boost to that region, to jobs and the supply chain but also to the UK’s reputation for innovation,” he added.

The use of lightweight materials must also be in sync with future powertrain development, and Flewitt sees the technology developed by small-scale companies like McLaren eventually trickling down to more mainstream brands and models.

From a performance perspective, stricter emissions regulations could result in the carmakers looking for alternative means to harness performance, and more intense weight savings may be the key. As Lotus founder Colin Chapman’s oft-quoted philosophy goes: “simplify, then add lightness.”