CEO talks about speculators, a Porsche 911 rival and the possibility of four-wheel drive

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?

Our Verdict

McLaren 540C

It might be the entry-level McLaren, but the 540C feels no less complete or exhilarating on the road than the firm's brilliant 570S

Join the debate


26 July 2017

I've been very privileged to drive a current generation McLaren quite a bit on the road recently, it's everything that Autocar has said in its numerous articles, amazingly fast, beautifully talkative chassis, fabulous visibility, and yet would I purchase one over my current Cayman GT4  ? Answer for me is sadly still no , and interestingly I get the same response from others who have driven them , there is something rather soulless about the overall experience, too fast and too easy maybe . I'm a very keen track day driver , I phoned McLaren Ascot to talk about a 540 and track day usage , I mentioned that I'd done over forty days on track in the GT4 in under two years, the reply from the McLaren salesman 'I don't think our car is for you Sir' , which probably says it all ?

26 July 2017

Disappointingly no plans to develop any vehicles that will actually be useful to society, just chasing profits......

26 July 2017

Might as well go to communism then Jensen. I'm kind of hoping that people continue to make things that are emotionally rewarding as well as beneficial to society.

I'd say that 5,300 high quality jobs is pretty worthwhile to society, that's what a quick Google search brought up for McLaren employee numbers, then add the various external suppliers, and you've got a company bringing a lot to people's lives.

Wasn't a Jensen Healey developed for fun, and profit? Maybe you bought a BL Maxi at that time instead?

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