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McLaren is officially a real car company: 10,000 McLarens built and sold

Forbes logo Forbes 15/12/2016 Mark Ewing, Contributor

ABOVE: McLaren Automotive Chief Executive Officer Mike Flewitt with the 10,000th McLaren to come down the Woking assembly line, a 570S finished in Ceramic Grey. © Provided by Forbes Media LLC ABOVE: McLaren Automotive Chief Executive Officer Mike Flewitt with the 10,000th McLaren to come down the Woking assembly line, a 570S finished in Ceramic Grey.

ABOVE: McLaren Automotive CEO Mike Flewitt with the 10,000th McLaren to come down the Woking assembly line, a 570S finished in Ceramic Grey.

With this 570S rolling down the assembly line in the “Glass House of Woking” just to the south of Heathrow, McLaren is validated as a legitimate maker of sports cars. The total is based on the current range of McLarens, and does not include the F1 supercars built in the 1990s, or the long-beak Mercedes SLR McLaren built in the past decade. The count to 10,000 began with the first of the current generation, a 12C completed in July 2011. After early stumbles that set the enterprise back, McLaren is gaining steam, the fundamental engineering now proven, and the details of what makes a good road car also fairly well sorted out. The first 5000 took three and a half years to make. The next five thousand took less than two years. Last year McLaren sold 1654 cars. In 2016, that could be close to or over 3000. They have moved from vector statics to vector dynamics.

ABOVE: McLaren Production Center employs about 750 people out of a total of approximately 1,750 employed by McLaren Automotive. © Provided by Forbes Media LLC ABOVE: McLaren Production Center employs about 750 people out of a total of approximately 1,750 employed by McLaren Automotive.

ABOVE: McLaren Production Center employs about 750 people out of a total of approximately 1,750 employed by McLaren Automotive.

America has been McLaren’s biggest market, but European allocation is now virtually identical at ~33%, with the rest divided between Asia and smaller markets that now have McLaren distributors. No surprise that the most reasonably priced McLarens, the 570S and GT, are the most popular, making up ~55% of production through the fall. By year’s close that will jump to ~65% as production of the 675LT Long Tail comes to an end. McLaren will need to develop special editions like the extraordinary Long Tail to keep interest up. Long Tail did wonders to turn around not only McLaren’s image, but its profitability, arguably more so than the P1 hypercar.

I’ve experienced and driven all flavors of current McLaren—650S, 675LT and 570GT—in the U.S. and in Britain. The 675 LT Long Tails will join the McLaren P1 hypercars as darlings of the emerging supercar auction market. It’s an astounding car.

For me, the 570GT is the very best of McLaren, the most usable, most livable, most readily integrated into daily life. Not hard to imagine a 650GT with a big horsepower boost coming in the next 12 to 18 months. With a foothold in the market, McLaren now needs to expand its offerings beyond variations on the carbon-alloy tub and twin-turbo V8, and that’s where the story will grow much more interesting.

 

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