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McLaren Spends $1 Billion on Super Cars to Challenge Ferrari

McLaren Group
Employees inspect an MP4-12C supercar produced by the Mclaren Group in the company's production center in Woking, U.K. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

McLaren Group plans to spend as much as $1 billion developing and marketing a range of sports cars to take on models from Ferrari SpA and Lamborghini SpA.

The U.K. company plans to unveil 13 models and variants in the coming years to build its lineup, Antony Sheriff, McLaren Automotive’s managing director, said in a London interview.

McLaren, best-known as the most successful Formula One team after Ferrari, opened its first dealership yesterday at London’s One Hyde Park as it seeks to expand sales. The automaker is planning 35 dealerships worldwide this year, including nine in the U.S., the largest market for luxury cars.

“I see it as a fantastic challenge to come to the market with a new brand,” Executive Chairman Ron Dennis said in a Bloomberg Television interview late yesterday.

McLaren has already shelled out about $320 million to develop its 200-mile-per-hour MP4-12C, Sheriff said. The automaker last month unveiled a track version of the car that will cost 310,000 pounds ($500,000).

The MP4-12C road car, successor to the McLaren F1, the world’s costliest auto in the 1990s and the fastest at 240 mph, has racked up 2,000 orders and there is a two-year waiting list to receive one, the company said.

Performance Criteria

The MP4-12C takes its name from the MP4 designation given to all of McLaren’s race cars since 1981, the latest being the MP4-26 driven by Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, who attended yesterday’s opening. The “C” indicates the road car’s carbon construction and the “12” is a reflection of “internal performance criteria” including weight, aerodynamics, power and down force, Sheriff said last month.

Dennis said he intends to sell as much as 47 percent of McLaren Automotive by the end of the year to reduce debt. The executive, who hired Credit Suisse Group AG to manage the equity sale, said it was progressing “a bit slower” than he envisaged.

“We don’t like debt,” Dennis said. “Investors have got to be patient but there is very clearly a profit coming after three or four years.”

The company is aiming to reach revenue of 1 billion pounds within five years, Dennis said.

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