Cool Britannia: Why McLaren is courting MidEast buyers

As it launches its latest models, the UK-based carmaker says GCC buyers are it’s most valued customers
Cool Britannia: Why McLaren is courting MidEast buyers
By Salma Awwad
Tue 03 Jun 2014 10:04 AM

The Middle East ranks as the fourth biggest market for car manufacturer McLaren, but Ian Gorsuch, the British company’s regional director, claims GCC buyers are among the brand’s most valuable customers and play a pivotal role in its fast-growing success.

“If you look at pure volume its small, but the reach of the Middle East is much more extensive,” said Gorsuch.

“A lot of our customers here also own houses in Geneva, London, Paris, New York. If they like the car here, they will buy the car to be in their stable in these other locations. Our reach in this region is much stronger than all the other regions. That is very important to us.”

Another revenue-spinner for the brand is the fact that most of the cars in this region are bespoke, in some way, where perhaps in the USA there would be more standard cars.

“The value of each car sold here is higher than any other region in the world because of the bespoke treatments,” he said “The custom built X-1 shows the extent of McLaren’s special operations and its ability to deliver a really bespoke car,” he added.

Only three and a half years old, McLaren Automotive already turned a profit in its most recent operating year, selling 3,500 of its 12C entry level model and a total of 15,000 vehicles through around 70 different distributors worldwide.

In their very limited life span, they have managed to give their “Italian friends” a run for their money, as Gorsuch puts it.

“It was an immense challenge to create a global car company in three and a half years. We had to do in three and a half years what our Italian friends evolved into after 60 years.

“Company figures will be released in the next week. This is the first year we return profit which was ahead of our forecasts. To launch a global automotive sports car brand, in the teeth of the world’s recession, and go up against the world’s most powerful automotive brands and return a profit in the first three and a half years is pretty cool I think,” Gorsuch believed.

During last year’s launch of their P1 model, a.k.a the $1m car, McLaren managed to sell 375 units, out of which 145 were to GCC buyers, before anyone actually drove the car. This speaks volumes as to how much McLaren customers trust the brand.

This year, McLaren just launched its 650S, which sold out even before the first delivery took place.

“50-60 units have been sold to the Middle East which will take us till the end of the year. The first deliveries will happen in the next couple of months,” he said.

This latest model sits between the 12C - their mid-engine sports car - and the $1m P1. The 650S is positioned as a competitor to the Ferrari 458S, while the 12C goes head-to-head with the 458.

“The 12C is faster, more powerful, has more technology that the 458 but still sells less. Ferrari then produced a 458 Speciale which is a stripped down road racer... The 650S that sits above the 12C is more powerful, faster and has more technology than the 458S. But it has carpets, air conditioning, genuine leather, Bluetooth and all the comfort as well as the performance. That’s how we gauge it,” said Gorsuch.

Ferrari produced a total of 75,000 cars last year while McLaren only sent out 15,000. The British F1 company intends to keep the exclusivity and value of each of their sports cars as high as possible in the market. Still they push innovation and continuous improvement to a new limit every year.

“We’re always looking for the supercar of the future. We’ve got lots of projects ahead but most exciting is the P13 which will come out at the very end of 2015,” said Gorsuch.

Recent details have emerged surrounding the sports car’s official unveiling and price tag. The P13 will debut at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show with a $210,000 price tag.

Also, it will be a similar size to the McLaren 650S and will have the same mid-engine, two-seat setup within a carbon-fibre body, but with top speeds of about 300 kph.

“The McLaren P13 is expected to compete with the likes of the Ferrari California T, the Audi R8 V10, and the Porsche 911 Turbo S.

“We made a promise to our shareholders, dealers and customers that we will introduce a new car every 12 months. There’s always going to be something new. We can never sit back and go “job done, let’s have a cigar and celebrate,” said Gorsuch.

“We’re humble enough to know that we’re the new guys on the block, we’ve got a lot to learn and we’re always going to be looking for ways to improve.”

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