By on June 29, 2017

2017 McLaren 570S yellow - Image: McLarenSUVs aren’t the only means of success in the global auto industry in 2017.

Sports cars, supercars even, appear to be a useful means of sourcing profits, even for a relatively young automaker such as McLaren.

It’s often said that the one way to make a small fortune racing cars is to start with a large fortune. The theme is just as accurate when it comes to automotive production and sales.

Yet McLaren, which began series production of road cars only seven years ago, saw its profits jump 70 percent, year-over-year, to USD $12 million in 2016 as global sales doubled.

More than one-third of the McLarens sold in 2016 are found driveways in North America.

While McLaren, benefiting from name recognition because of its Formula 1 heritage and as the builder of the truly, genuinely, literally iconic F1, continues to grow, numerous sports car startups have fallen by the wayside.

Unfortunately, that’s the way it’s supposed to be in the English countryside. You have some money, a place to test your cars, a place to build your cars, a source at Ford or Honda that’ll get you a bundle of 2.0-liter four-pots on the cheap. You show the car to the British enthusiast media. The car oversteers wildly on track, the windows won’t roll down, and it explodes at the end of lap one.

“The production car will be better,” you say, knowing full well a car that doesn’t explode is all that’s needed for the prototype to “be better.”

No, they don’t all explode, of course. But from Ascari to Zenos, there’ve always been individuals with dreams of challenging Ferrari and Porsche at the top of the sports car heap.2017 McLaren 720S - Image: McLarenMcLaren, with 3,286 sales in 2016, isn’t doing so yet. Moreover, McLaren expects to see a dramatic reduction, not in the number of sales mind you, but in the rate of growth experienced by the company.

“We will never again see a jump in sales volume of this magnitude,” says Joylon Nash, McLaren’s executive director for sales and marketing. “But the reception to the new 720S and new 570S Spider have been incredibly positive and initial orders for both are beyond our expectations.”

The lower level cars — Sports Series in McLaren language — produced nearly two-thirds of the brand’s sales last year. The Super Series models generated a further 1,255 sales. McLaren already has 1,500 orders for the new 720S.

The goal for the next half-decade? Sell 4,500 cars in 2022.

Ferrari sold around 8,000 cars in 2016.

In the U.S., McLaren has sold 301 cars through 2017’s first five months — a modest 4-percent drop from 2016, according to Automotive News. 80 percent of McLaren’s U.S. sales are of the Sports Series variety: 570S, 570S Spider, 570GT, 540C.

[Images: McLaren]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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7 Comments on “McLaren Automotive Sales and Profits Are Soaring; 2017 Expected to Be Even Better Than 2016...”


  • avatar
    derekson

    They’ll likely be the Duesenberg of this Roaring 20s -> Depression 30s cycle.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Is McLaren privately owned?

  • avatar
    stingray65

    How come McLaren can make a profit selling 3 to 4,000 very technically sophisticated sports cars per year with no subsidies, and Tesla can’t make a profit selling 50,000+ technically simple electric cars per year with lots of manufacturing and consumer subsidies?

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      In 1991, the year of my 911 C4, Porsche went nearly broke and sold only 5000 or so cars. McLaren making a profit on around half that number of sales is pretty impressive.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      Tesla is trying to scale up, very quickly. They’re building the gigafactory and investing heavily in ramping up capacity. McLaren isn’t. Batteries are expensive. Total profit for McLaren last year was $12 million dollars. The year before it was a hair over $7 million.

      Based on the sales figures for this past year, McLaren is averaging about $3650 in net profit per car sold. Their cheapest models start at about $200,000 each, so that would put net profit per car at about 1.8% at the high end. That’s pretty damn slim.

      Of course if McLaren wanted to they could probably tack on an extra $5000 to the starting price for any of their vehicles and none of their customers would even notice.

      • 0 avatar
        TonyJZX

        That’s some amazing numbers. How can you only make $3,650 per car? They must have huge R&D and build costs. I guess its early days yet.

        In my mind, selling 3-4,000 cars and only making $12 million profit globally isnt really a business you want to be in.

        To put this into perspective, I worked for a global FMCG company with something like 75 staff and we made $50 mil. profit in a country with only 25 million people. Then again, our product went into your everyday groceries.

        To me, McLaren’s goal should be 7,000 cars globally as quickly as possible and then turning up the profitability on each unit OR going for as many units as possible…. you can be a Ferrari or you can be a Porsche where you then have an SUV and the like.

        I would think McLaren isnt going to be a possition where they can market their name on perfume and kids clothes….

        I also have the opinion McLaren are going to get into the base 911 Carrera business where you can get a twin turbo 3.8 v6 almost into a Cayman style setup. Mass market yo.

  • avatar
    notwhoithink

    Now if they could only find their way back towards the podium at an F1 race…

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