McLaren wants to take the same path as Ferrari: from the track to the road

Article by Christian Andrei, on November 21, 2011

McLaren vehicles will soon be found on roads as the U.K. motor-racing team has opened a 50 million-pound ($80 million) factory that will mass-produce a 200mph street-legal model. McLaren is second only to Ferrari when it comes to Formula One wins. With a price tag of 168,500 pounds ($266,000), this model is expected to achieve sales of 4,000 units annually.

There have only been a handful of teams in motor sport that were able to use its wins on the track to be successful at a manufacturing business. The tremendous success of Ferrari is unique among its rivals in Formula One, the richest race-car series in the world.

It has an annual revenue of $1.1 billion and has a television audience that averages 50 million for every grand prix. Mark Jenkins, the co-author of "Performance at the Limit: Business Lessons from Formula One Motor Racing" and a professor of business strategy at Britain's Cranfield University, said that McLaren will find it difficult since there are many “well-established brands” in the sports-car segment.

He also stated that motor sport technology is “very, very high end” but to go into road-car production, it has to be “far more low-cost."

According to Tony Jardine, a manager at McLaren before Executive Chairman Ron Dennis took the helm in 1981 and who also worked for Lotus and Brabham, the new MP4-12C model, which sells at 35 dealerships globally (of which nine are in the U.S.) is a winner. He said that it has had a “massive amount of work” to make sure that the car is “really amazing.”

Creating a bespoke McLaren MP4-12C is an adventure in itself. That’s because every part is uniquely McLaren down to the very last detail. A tailor-made McLaren M838T 3.8L Twin-Turbo V8 engine backs up the high-performing 12C. It can show off an exceptional 600bhp along with McLaren’s SSG or 7-speed Seamless Shift dual clutch gearbox. This puts the MP4-12C under the high performance category without compromising lower emission and fuel savings.

The 12C is definitely built to perform. As a matter of fact, McLaren’s extensive background in aerodynamics contributed to the sports car’s overall road balance, handling, grip and air-cooling. In line with this, Sheriff also defined the value of multi-level performance and not just to focus on a single aspect (i.e. speed). In that case, they also considered the 12C’s in-gear acceleration time and braking system to enable them to come up with the lowest CO2 emissions and fuel consumption.

At the end, he mentioned how McLaren is building the new standard of performance in the mid-engine category. Nevertheless, a series of market study and intensive engineering resulted to the 12C’s concept development. By all means, the outstanding dynamic qualities were achieved using the driving simulator and wind tunnel testing.

Meanwhile, McLaren’s Dick Glover (Automotive Technical Director) stressed the importance of his role in McLaren’s F1 race team and how the experience has helped him successfully develop the 12C. Still, he also acknowledged all those who have been involved in the entire procedure and their significance to its successful development.

Topics: mclaren, ferrari

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