McLaren Vows to Stay Independent as It Pushes to Find New Buyers

McLaren Automotive Ltd. plans to stay independent to take advantage of its nimbleness as it competes with other supercar makers such as Lamborghini and Ferrari.

“We’re very quick to move. Our product development life cycles are very efficient,” Jolyon Nash, executive director of sales and marketing, said in an interview. “In an industry like this, those are great advantages.”

The automaker famed for its Formula One racing team is one of the few global luxury auto brands that is not part of a larger group, which provides financial resources and helps lower costs. Lamborghini, Bugatti and Porsche are owned by Europe’s largest automaker Volkswagen AG, while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV controls Ferrari and Maserati.

The company, based in Woking, U.K., is looking to expand in Southeast Asia and South America, Nash said at the Shanghai auto show this month. It’s also opening new outlets in existing markets, such as China, Japan and North America, he said, reiterating the automaker’s plan to sell about 4,000 vehicles annually by 2017.

The automaker introduced its most affordable model, the 540C Coupe that costs 126,000 pounds ($191,000), in Shanghai this month. The car will help the brand gain new buyers who could eventually graduate to its more expensive models, Nash said.

McLaren, which sells the P1 for more than $1 million, started selling cars in 2011 and has since offered seven models. The company’s independence allows it to develop products that keep up with technology and legislative requirements, Nash said.

“And those shift quite quickly,” he said. “Our intention is to remain independent. We are in charge of our own destiny.”

— With assistance by Alexandra Ho

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