Company could build the MP4-12C at its current HQ if new factory isn't ready
7 October 2009

The first batches of McLaren MP4-12C supercars will be assembled at the company’s Technical Centre in Woking if a planned new factory can’t be built in time.

A contingency plan is being drawn up because the first customer cars are due to be delivered in November next year, even though work on the new plant has yet to start.

See the hi-res McLaren MP4-12C picture galleryLatest details and pictures: McLaren MP4-12C

McLaren received planning permission a couple of weeks ago for a new 18,000sq ft factory, which is due to be built close to its Woking HQ.

But there are doubts whether the new factory can be finished in time. Its construction will be a huge job because it is partially below ground level.

Once the shell is complete, machinery will need to be tested, staff trained and production methods honed to a high standard on pre-production cars from late next summer. That gives McLaren just 11 months to construct and fit out the building.

“We’re looking at whether the first cars can be built with the current network of McLaren facilities,” said the company.

McLaren could use the assembly area in the MTC where it has been building Mercedes SLRs. Between two and three cars a day can be assembled there. That would tide McLaren over until the economy recovers in 2011/12, when the brand new plant could be on stream.

Ultimately McLaren needs a new factory to fulfil its ambitions of making 4500 supercars a year, a similar level to Ferrari, although this is unlikely to be reached until 2015/16, when a range of at least three MP4 variants is planned.

Julian Rendell

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7 October 2009

If one were a cynic one would read this as a whole as McLaren getting its spin out on the actual story of build numbers needing to be scaled back massively to match actual demand. The story of a factory not being ready on time neatly covers the production of the new car at around ten a week rate maxmum compared to the hundred plus envisioned in the business plan when the car was conceived in circa 2007, the height of the credit mania bubble. It's not going to be easy to explain to investors, the workforce, one's onw ego, in the case of Ron Dennis, that your original business plan is shot to pieces due to the bubble bursting and the emergence of potent competitors like the Ferrari Italia and the Mercedes SLS. Blaming granting of planning permission delays and building underground - didn't BMW achieve this without major tumult with the Rolls Royce facility at Goodwood? - is the vehicle, pardon the pun, being used to explain to stakeholders in the new venture why the whole shooting match will be but a fraction of what was planned, for many years to come. The belief that they will run at reduced production rate till 2011/12, 'when the world economy recovers' ,is more pie in the sky thinking. By then, there will be fully established competitors including roadster and electric versions of the SLS and no guarantee that Mclaren's main markets, in the US, UK, and the Middle East will have recovered from their debt-induced depressions. Squeaky bum time at McLaren.

7 October 2009

I had similar thoughts when I first read the story.

The MP4-12C is going to be priced at or above the Ferrari Italia. The Italia has a head-start of at least a year and there are also the Merc-AMG SLS, and possibly new offerings from Lamborghini and Porsche by 2011-2012.

I do admire McLaren for engineering the car to be different. But prospective buyers aren't just buying engineering. There are other emotional considerations (sex appeal) also. It was the same with the original McLaren F1, people didn't think much of it initially and the world press took years to warm to it. The world motoring press only began praising it after it won at Le Mans and production ended.

I hope the new McLaren will be a great success. Ron Dennis and his team deserve it!

7 October 2009

"The Italia has a head-start of at least a year and there are also the Merc-AMG SLS, and possibly new offerings from Lamborghini and Porsche by 2011-2012."

... and by then, there will be also a couple of jokes like the long waited? Arexis LF-A...

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