Life as a niche automaker is far from easy. Just ask Aston Martin how it managed to stay afloat for all these years and you’ll understand why most companies are now part of bigger corporations. But while the likes of Lamborghini, Bugatti and Ferrari are flourishing under Volkswagen and Fiat, respectively, some carmakers plan to continue independently. McLaren is one of them, and according to executive director of sales and marketing Jolyon Nash, that won’t change anytime soon.

Nash argues that staying independent allows McLaren to develop products that keep up with technology and the latest legislative requirements. Simply put, instead of being forced to play by the parent company’s rules, independent automakers are in charge of their own destinies, choosing whether to shift toward, say, innovation or sustainability. Or both, because McLaren has already proven it can do it without jumping on the SUV bandwagon.

Nash also thinks that not being dependent on a parent company means McLaren can update its products in a more efficient way. "We’re very quick to move. Our product development life cycles are very efficient. In an industry like this, those are great advantages," he said in an interview, according to Automotive News.

Of course, staying independent requires significant profits, which is why McLaren is off to an unprecedented lineup expansion that includes three vehicle tiers and nearly 10 models, both road-legal and track-only, with even more underway.

Continue reading to learn more about how McLaren plans to remain independent.

Why it matters

It might seem that McLaren is a bit overconfident about its future as an independent carmaker, but its attitude is based on rock-solid facts. The company built itself a strong name as a Formula One and Can-Am racing team before switching to in-house-developed road cars in the 1990s, with a focus on innovation and exclusivity. Not only did the F1 supercar shatter the world record for fastest production cars by a whopping 27 mph, it also became a Le Mans winner with only minor modifications. Talk about appeal, huh?

A dramatic shift in strategy occurred in 2014, when McLaren outlined plans to boost sales by expanding the lineup even further.

After a short break, during which it helped Mercedes-Benz develop the SLR supercar, McLaren returned to building road cars with the MP4-12C, also a success on both the street and the track. The P1 supercar brought even more exclusivity to the brand, while the 650S arrived as a new weapon against entry-level Ferraris and Lamborghinis. It was the first time McLaren had two distinct nameplates on offer, but it was only the beginning.

A dramatic shift in strategy occurred in 2014, when McLaren outlined plans to boost sales by expanding the lineup even further. The result of that is what we now know as the Sports Series (570S and 540C). Around the same time, McLaren announced the launch of its first customer racing program for the P1 GTR, joining the ranks of Ferrari and Lamborghini.

What McLaren did over the past year was combine strategies seen at Ferrari and Porsche. On one hand it built exclusive cars such as the P1 and P1 GTR, together with introducing a full-fledged racing program, while on the other hand it began offering its products to a wider audience with the more affordable Sports Series, created to include several nameplates. To top it off, McLaren continues to use the same carbon-fiber MonoCell chassis and award-winning V-8 engine in all of its cars, a policy that’s cost-effective while allowing for the latest updates to be spread across the entire lineup.

Moreover, McLaren remains true to its heritage by refusing to build SUVs, which can’t be said about traditional sports car manufacturers such as Porsche, Lamborghini, Lotus, Bentley or Aston Martin. All of the above makes McLaren a unique manufacturer and proves that a brand can survive without dropping its heritage or building mainstream cars. Kudos!

McLaren 540C

2016 McLaren 540C Exterior
- image 627392

Find our more about the McLaren 540C in our full review here.

Source: Automotive News

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