Formula One car maker McLaren unveiled plans on Thursday to build a range of commercial sports cars, using race technology to take on other high-end European manufacturers such as Ferrari and Porsche on the highways.
McLaren is banking on renewed spending after the global economic downturn to bolster demand for its first offering, the MP4-12C, which will go on sale in late 2011 with a hefty price tag of between £125,000 and £150,000 ($207,434-$248,921).
“Following any recession, there’s a resurgence,” McLaren Automotive Chairman Ron Dennis said. “We intend to catch that wave.”
“Our volumes are very much linked to how we see the recovery,” he added.
The company aims to make up to 1000 of the 12C cars next year, with up to 40 per cent being sold in North America.
It will compete with the Ferrari 458 Italia, priced at around £170,000 ($A282,110), and Mercedes SLS AMG at around £145,000 ($A240,624).
McLaren’s investment in a £40 million ($66.38 million) production facility south of London, due to begin work on the first car next spring, is also a boost for Britain’s waning car manufacturing sector.
“At a time when the UK is rebalancing the economy away from the past two decades’ over-concentration on financial services, we stand alongside other high-tech manufacturing and engineering companies, committed to securing Britain’s global leadership, and securing a sustainable economic future,” Dennis said.
This is not the first time McLaren has built a road car, but it is the first time the company has made its own vehicle in the “core sports car” market, defined as selling for £125,000- £200,000 ($207,435-$331,895).
The company said the MP4-12C would be based on the MonoCell or “tub” structure, making it the first offered to the public with a lightweight one-piece carbon-fibre structure.
The car was test-driven earlier this month by Formula One world champion Jenson Button and his McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton.