McLaren CEO Explains Why an SUV is Not on The Company Menu
The British automaker wants to protect its status as a purveyor of exotic carsby Kirby, on
McLaren has made it clear that it has no plans to develop an SUV, and we’re finally hearing the company’s reasons straight from CEO Mike Flewitt. In a conversation with Top Gear, Flewitt was clear that McLaren isn’t joining the SUV party, largely because it costs a lot of money to develop one. More importantly, he doesn’t want to dilute the McLaren “brand,” a sentiment we’ve heard from the automaker a number of times in the past.
While everyone is stirring into the SUV skid, McLaren is stirring against it. The company isn’t wrong in doing that, as CEO Mike Flewitt explained to Top Gear. “There’s more than enough SUVs in the world, and we don’t need another one,” Flewitt said.
Obviously, there are layers to that answer so don’t take the quote as it is. According to Flewitt, McLaren looks at three things when it’s trying to come up with a new product: brand, technology, and money.
From a “brand” perspective, a McLaren SUV doesn’t make sense because it can dilute the McLaren brand.
“Our brand and heritage is motorsport and great drivers’ cars,” Flewitt said. “SUVs are great, they have their place, but they’re not great drivers’ cars. They utterly dilute the driving experience, so it makes no sense.”
The McLaren CEO makes a valid point, even though it is a subjective one. Lamborghini, for example, has succeeded in offering the Urus SUV. This is a company that falls in the same class as McLaren, except that it has somehow parlayed the image of its own brand into a model — Urus — that still retains an aura of exclusivity. It would seem that McLaren’s point about diluting the brand extends past actually developing an SUV and into the space of how it develops the model.
That leads to Flewitt’s next point: money. The McLaren CEO made it a point to mention that a lot of the super SUVs in the market today — the Urus, the Porsche Cayenne, and the Bentley Bentayga, among them — are actually made by one group that can share parts and technology. “Nothing wrong with them, but we don’t have a technology set that suits an SUV, so we’d be starting from scratch,” Flewitt said. “And we’re not arrogant to think we can go up against the Range Rovers and Cayennes of this world with a better car than them overnight.”
A big part of the “money” argument overlaps with the “technology” aspect of building an SUV.
On that end, Flewitt makes another good point, saying that McLaren doesn’t have the technology ready for an SUV, and if it wanted to build one, it’s going to cost a lot of money to invest in the right tech that will suit a McLaren SUV.
“You have to invest from scratch, and we wouldn’t make any money out of it,” he said.
It’s easy to look at McLaren’s position and argue that Ferrari is in a similar position, except that it’s already working on its own SUV. That wouldn’t be fair, though, to the British automaker because Ferrari has more resources at its disposal. And for what it’s worth, McLaren isn’t under any pressure from anybody to build an SUV. It’s already doing an incredible job building drool-worthy supercars. It has a business plan that obviously works, so why even bother changing it if the costs are going to be too high?
Read our full speculative review on the 2020 McLaren SUV.
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Source: Top Gear