McLaren Automotive laid out its ambitious plans to become a competitive player in the high-performance car market and wants to build up to 4,000 top-shelf sports car annually by the middle of the decade.
The company held a grand opening at its base in Woking, England, to celebrate the progress and officially unveil the MP4-12C as it moves toward production. The estimated 592-hp supercar is expected to be exceptionally light and aerodynamic as the company takes aim at the best of Ferrari and Lamborghini.
Additionally, McLaren broke ground this month on a new production center in England that will be the centerpiece of its growing road-car business. The $61 million development will measure more than 344,000 square feet and create up to 300 new jobs. Ultimately, it will employ up to 800 people when production ramps up.
“We have long held the dream of building a range of innovative McLaren sports cars,” chairman Ron Dennis said. “Sports cars that take the raw elements of Formula One principles, processes and performance and forge them into a unique package that adds the requirements of quality, efficiency, comfort and reliability--traditionally opposing goals that I know we can deliver.”
Like its grand prix rival Ferrari, McLaren will trade heavily on its racing credibility--it is quick to tout its 164 victories since the 1960s--and technology for its road cars. The last two Formula One world champions, Jenson Button (2009) and Lewis Hamilton (‘08), drove the MP4-12C, and not surprisingly they were impressed by it at the iconic Goodwood circuit.
The car enters production late this year and begins arriving on the market in early 2011. McLaren plans to make 1,000 cars in the first full year. The company is going for the market segment of cars priced between $190,000 and $270,000.
“The 12C is a real driver’s car; it delivered on all my expectations,” Hamilton said. “The visibility is great from the driver’s seat. You really appreciate that in tight corners. I loved the McLaren F1 when I drove it and like that car, the huge front windscreen of the 12C allows you to take in all the information needed for perfect lines through apex turns.”
In addition to its race-bred dynamics, the new McLaren will also feature modern amenities such as Wi-Fi. It will also employ a seven-speed gearbox with two wet clutches.
The MP4-12C follows in the lineage of the Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR, which drew praise for its combination of luxury and sport, as well as the iconic F1, which lays claim to being the last true road car to win Le Mans.
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