McLaren Will Not Go Further Down Market From the 540S
The new McLaren 570S
It sounds funny to say a car that costs almost $185,000 is a move downmarket, but the new McLaren 570S introduced at the recent New York Auto Show, and the detuned 540S version of the same “Sport Series” chassis (~$150K), are exactly that. The first McLarens to cost less than a quarter of a million dollars are aimed squarely at the Porsche 911. Since I’ve always been a best bang for the buck kind of a guy, whether I’m talking cars or stereo equipment, I wondered if McLaren might be interested in using their resources to bring their kind of high performance to an everyman’s sports car. So I asked Wayne Bruce, McLaren’s global director of communications, if there might be a sub-six-figure McLaren some day.
I’m guessing that if I had a dollar for every time Bruce has heard a Batman joke referencing his name, I could probably afford even more than one new “entry level” carbon fiber McLaren. In any case, it’s an interesting coincidence he has a last name that’s the same as the first name of the company founder, racer and constructor Bruce McLaren. Speaking of carbon fiber, Bruce said it was just one reason why the company has no interest in making cars for the masses. He said that the company’s carbon fiber technology simply can’t be implemented at such a low price point.
Understand that McLaren is a relatively tiny company. They don’t have resources the likes of BMW, which is putting over a billion dollars into the supply chain for the CFRP parts used in the i3 and i8. While the i cars at BMW are primarily seen by outsiders as an effort to make electric cars, much of the program is aimed at reducing the cost of making car parts and cars out of carbon fiber.
The only sub $100,000 car being sold today with carbon fiber architecture is the Alfa Romeo 4C – starting at about $54,000 – though it doesn’t have a completely carbon fiber unibody. It has a carbon fiber passenger cell, with front and rear aluminum subframes attached to the central tub.
Because it’s located on the bottom of the dihedrally operating door, you can’t see the logo for the Bowers & Wilkins audio system while driving, but you will see it every time you get in the 570S.
Bruce said McLaren is now profitable and they wouldn’t risk their profitability to make the immense investment needed to make a mass market car. A “McLaren Miata” would require economies of scale far beyond the company’s abilities.
Though he didn’t use the word “cheapen”, he indicated that a mass market McLaren would not be good for the brand; their current customers expect a certain level of exclusivity. In 2013, McLaren delivered about 1,400 cars. Bruce said the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking has the capacity to build about 4,000 units a year and they anticipate reaching that limit once their new Sport models swing into full production. He continued that number would likely be the ceiling for McLaren production and they have no plans to expand the capacity of the Woking facility or to build another factory.
I didn’t ask Mr. Bruce if McLaren, like other companies associated with high levels of performance or luxury (Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin, Maserati and Lotus), is also considering some kind of CUV.
Photography by Ronnie Schreiber. For more photos of the vehicles in this post, please go to Cars In Depth.
Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS
Bigtruckseriesreview @ Youtube on May 05, 2015
The design of the Mclaren F1/LM offered you THREE SEATS, better balancing, better handling and a far superior experience. How are these new "McLarens" better? They should have NEVER abandoned central seating in their flagship model. I look at these cars and see nothing worth wanting. I'd rather buy a Lamborghini for this money.
Runs_on_h8raide on May 05, 2015
If I were a 1%'er I'd totally rock one of the McLarens. Interesting to see the 540S starting out at 150k. If I recall, didn't Acura throw out a number saying the new NSX would be $150k? I'll have to do some digging. edit: Yup...150k http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2015/01/12/acura-nsx-supercar-price/21620271/ Hmm...quite interesting given the McLaren-Honda F1 partnership!!
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