McLaren is going from strength to strength, having doubled sales volumes in the past year and having made more than 10,000 cars now.
Here we catch up with CEO Mike Flewitt to get his opinion on some of the wide-ranging topics challenging the firm's future.
You can also read more about the McLaren P1 beating McLaren P15 hypercar that AUtocar has scooped here.
McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt on:
Speculators inflating the prices of collectable cars
“We watch it, but it’s inevitable. All we can do is encourage buyers to go through our dealers so that we can follow the cars. A lot of owners like the fact that the value of their cars can double or more. It’s an appealing part of ownership, but the fear is that we create a boom and bust culture, which isn’t good for anyone.”
How big McLaren Automotive can get
“We’re pretty much there in terms of our product portfolio, but we can do more in terms of distribution. Last year, we sold 3286 cars, so the goal is 5000 units a year. We’re not rushing [to that goal] because we are profitable, we have full order books and because it takes time to ramp up productivity to the quality levels we demand, both for us and our suppliers.”
Stock exchange flotation
In three to five years, I can see us growing to a point that we might attract investors. A £1 bn-a-year company is often right to take on a public structure. We’re not there yet, but if it happens, it doesn’t worry me. I’ve led such companies before and it won’t introduce compromises. The more diverse your shareholding base, the more accountable you have to be, but that doesn’t hold any fears for us. At the moment, we can fund all of our plans ourselves, but if we wanted to go beyond 5000 cars a year, it might be interesting.”
Making a 2+2 model to rival the Porsche 911
“There is an opportunity to grow other product offerings if they don’t dilute what we offer now. If you look at the Porsche sports car range and how the 911 and its derivatives fit in to that, then ultimately it is very exciting. You can see how the 570GT has evolved our range to a new place and we are doing a lot of work to see what the market wants. The interesting part is how useful the two extra seats are. Do they get used, or are they a psychological benefit? Is there another way of increasing usability through packaging?”
An all-wheel-drive model
“We’re not there yet, but I’d say we’re getting close to the limit [of rear-wheel drive]. While I’d say we’re not planning all-wheel drive right now, we’re conscious it’s a direction we may well want to go in. But if it does happen, it won’t be using a conventional mechanical system, rather an electrically powered front axle. Our hybrid architecture will be flexible and, from an engineering point of view, there’s no point putting a shaft down the centre of the car.”
Even more lightness
“I’m always asking the engineers how to lose weight and, of course, racing cars don’t use a rear subframe. I don’t know if you could do it with a road car — there would certainly be some challenges with refinement — but wouldn’t it be great to go tub-engine-gearbox?