McLaren Automotive, the British Formula One team turned car maker, is unperturbed by a slowing global economy brought on by falling oil prices, with luxury car sales sliding in key markets such as China.
McLaren, which previously only dealt in the supercar class priced between Dh1.1 million and Dh5.1m, has now added a Sports Series. The570S starts at about Dh750,000 with customers willing to place deposits and wait for delivery, bucking a regional trend that traditionally demands cash on delivery.
“We have more than doubled our production capability from 1,654 cars last year to 4,000 in 2016,” said Andreas Bareis, the managing director of McLaren for the Middle East and Africa.
“We have a filled order book for the new 570S and our other marques that will take us to September. While the market is challenging we are not naive enough to say we are impervious to downturns,” he added.
Sales of top luxury brands such as Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Ferrari fell last year in China, where the economy grew at 6.9 per cent in 2015, the slowest in 25 years.
With the 570S McLaren is attempting to move from its niche, petrolhead roots into the mainstream taking on the likes of the Audi R8, Porsche 911 Turbo and Aston Martin Vantage S – cars that come from companies with a deep history and even deeper pockets.
The company is now thinking about the driver rather than the driving. The 570S has cup holders and pockets for holding mobile phones. It has also given thought to the model’s appeal.
“We saw that in the Mena region appearance is key,” said Mr Bareis. “In Europe performance is the key dynamic, in Japan perfection of the finishing and the paintwork is crucial and in the United States connectivity and in car technology is key.
“As McLaren designs, produces and manufactures every single element of the car from the stereo to the gearbox, we have not compromised on any detail and our independence means we are fastidious in getting it right.”
The Mena region is a key market for McLaren, with Mumtalakat, Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund, its major shareholder. The car maker has nine dealerships in the region with more than 10 per cent of its cars sold here.
The Sports Series 570S and 540C that is soon to follow will account for 65 per cent of McLaren’s production.
McLaren Automotive – named eponymously after its F1 behemoth – was launched in 2010 with a promise to launch a new car every year. In 2014, McLaren Automotive achieved a second successive year of profitability. Revenue for the year increased by 67 per cent and the company achieved a pre-tax profit of £15 million (Dh79.4m), a 233 per cent increase on 2013.