Shots have been fired. McLaren has gone on record saying that it will never create an SUV, because “there is nothing cool about an SUV,” the director of McLaren’s Sports Series, Darren Goddard told carsales.
The luxury British supercar manufacturer is even unfazed with Ferrari’s move to build the Purosangue SUV – Bugatti is also said to be planning an SUV, but McLaren is firm that there is no need to add a family wagon to its line-up.
Goddard admits that the company is keeping a close eye on the luxury SUV sector and the success of the Porsche Cayenne, Lamborghini Urus and Bentley Bentayga, but finds no compelling reason to conform.
He added that these companies are simply using SUVs to balance their bottom line, a move that was pioneered by Porsche when it introduced the original Cayenne. “They are all just chasing volume. It’s not pure,” Goddard noted.
McLaren has a fixed production target of 6,000 cars annually, and if an SUV were to be added to the line-up, that figure would balloon to 15,000. “Thinking about the difference between mass production and an exclusive product is quite different,” he said.
Hypothetically, if McLaren were to create an SUV, it would necessitate a massive investment because it will have to move away from the carbon mono-cell its sports cars are based on. The reason why the Volkswagen Touareg, Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne, Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus all exist is because they each ride on the same MLB Evo platform from the Volkswagen Group.
“Those [VW Group] SUVs are three models, in some cases four, all the same under skin but with different OEM badges on the front. Even if we wanted, we couldn’t have that connection with any other brand. There is an element of exclusivity. The customers and the brand deserves to have the exclusivity,” Goddard added.
With SUVs off the table, what’s next for McLaren? It seems the answer is an electric car. Goddard admits that there are McLaren EV test mules, but there is nothing to report on a model programme at the moment.
“It’s been a rolling decision every time we look at the business plan. Not just about typical BEV things. What is the feeling? How do you make the sound engaging? How do you make a BEV work on a track? At the moment you can only do two or three laps, or it gets ridiculously heavy. It’s still about the driving experience. That’s where we are right now. We’re in more of an evaluation program than a development program,” he explained.
Goddard also added that McLaren will not just buy a ready-made skateboard platform and drop a body on top, but intends to do a full blown EV programme from scratch. “That’s the challenge. We are not looking at buying a skateboard from someone else. But we are working with technology partners for motors, batteries and control systems.” Things are unclear at the moment, but McLaren is waiting for the right technology and partner that will enable the proper McLaren experience.