McLaren Officially Has No Desire to Offer An SUV - Ever
Stop wishing for it to happen because you’re wishing on nothingby Kirby, on
An SUV is not part of McLaren’s plans, now or in future. McLaren’s design chief, Mark Roberts, made that clear at an event preceding the 2019 Canadian International Auto Show. According to Roberts, McLaren isn’t going to stray away from its core identity as an automaker that delivers the “ultimate driving experience.” Since McLaren believes that developing an SUV strays from that identity, it’s not a question of “if” the company ends up building one, as it is “when” we’re going to stop thinking it will. It’s not happening. Not now. Not in the future. So stop wishing for a McLaren SUV to one day enter our lives. Unless the automaker undergoes a dramatic shift in philosophy, you have a better chance of seeing a 150-horsepower Ferrari city car than a McLaren SUV.
There Will Never be a McLaren SUV...Period
This is a bit like the news that won’t die, isn’t it? Numerous times in the past, McLaren has been clear about where it stood in the SUV debate. Company boss Mike Flewitt addressed it all the way back in 2014 when he said that the automaker isn’t interested in developing an SUV because McLaren will always remain a sports car-focused brand. Over the years, a number of other McLaren executives have echoed Flewitt’s statement. McLaren’s PR chief, Wayne Bruce backed up Flewitt’s position in 2016 when he said that an SUV “runs counter to McLaren’s short- and long-term objectives.” Last year, McLaren North America president Tony Joseph echoed the same sentiment, telling Automotive News that there’s “no need” for McLaren to go into SUVs from a business perspective. “We want to concentrate just on two-seat sports cars and be known as the iconic sports car company.”
Since the questions about a potential SUV never seem to die, it’s now the company’s design chief, Mark Roberts, who has to answer the same question. Not surprisingly, Roberts’ position is in sync with all his exec peers. “I can easily answer that and say no,” he said when asked about a possible McLaren SUV. “We really do deliver on the ultimate driving experience. For us, it means no compromise. An SUV doesn’t allow us to deliver on that. It’s not a no-compromise kind of vehicle.”
That’s a pretty definitive statement, don’t you think? As intriguing as it is to see a McLaren SUV go up against the Lamborghini Urus and the upcoming Ferrari Purosangue, McLaren isn’t entering that fight, not because it can’t, but because it doesn’t want to. It has no incentive in developing an SUV because it doesn’t need to bolster its sales. In fact, 2018 was a landmark sales year for McLaren in all the important markets. Over in China, sales of McLaren models last year grew by a whopping 122 percent compared to its sales volume in 2017. The automaker also experienced record sales in the U.S., which it considers as its biggest market in the world, accounting for a third of all McLaren units that sold last year.
Overall, McLaren rose 4,806 units last year.
It’s not a big number if you compare it to mainstream automakers, but for a performance car brand, it’s a number that’s good enough for a 44-percent sales increase compared to its sales volume in 2017.
Clearly, McLaren is doing well as a performance car brand. It’s doing it, too, without having to rely on an SUV as a sales crutch. It has an established identity that it wants to protect, and with business booming, it’s easier to protect that identity without having to worry about what an SUV would do to it.
Obviously, it’s not just about brand identity, either. If that’s the case, we should be crucifying the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bentley, and Rolls-Royce for dipping their toes in the SUV market. Just as important is the cost of developing one. That’s something that McLaren isn’t prepared to spend on, in large part because it doesn’t have the shared engineering to rely on to keep costs down.
Flewitt mentioned that last year when he said that “an SUV is hugely expensive to do.”
Both Lamborghini and Bentley, for example, share the same MLB platform that parent company Volkswagen developed for its lineup of luxury and performance SUVs. The Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7 also use the same platform. For its part, Rolls-Royce used a version of its modular “Architecture of Luxury” platform in the Cullinan. Ferrari’s building a new chassis architecture and a new mid-engine platform, but the Purosangue won’t be the only model to use it.
On that note, it’s hard to compare Ferrari and McLaren as companies because the latter, despite its recent surge in popularity, is still a small company when you compare it to what is arguably the most established performance car maker in the world. That’s a big deal for McLaren, not to mention an even bigger challenge. There’s a demand that comes with building an SUV that McLaren probably won’t be able to meet because it doesn’t have the resources to keep up with the potential demand.
I admit that it remains an exciting thought, even after the automaker has repeatedly shot down the possibility of an SUV.
But if you look at it from McLaren’s perspective, it becomes easier to understand why an SUV isn’t something that it’s willing to do. It doesn’t have the capacity to follow the same blueprint that Lamborghini and Ferrari are adopting.
The two Italian automakers have the capacity or, at least in Lamborghini’s case, Volkswagen money, to sell SUVs. It’s a sound strategy because by selling these in-demand models, Ferrari and Lamborghini can bankroll the development of their sports cars and supercars. McLaren doesn’t have that option, at least not yet.
All that said, do we really expect McLaren to stick to its word in the future? Maybe. Maybe not. But looking that far ahead can be a fool’s errand in it of itself. Who’s to say that SUVs would remain popular in, say, ten years? What’s important is “the now and the near future,” and in both cases, it’s unlikely that we’ll see a McLaren SUV. Perhaps it’s time to stop dreaming about one.
Read our full speculative review on the 2020 McLaren SUV.
Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Koenigsegg SUV.
Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Ferrari Purosangue.
Source: Automotive News