McLaren CEO Promises ‘Shared Performance Vehicle,’ Which Is Really Just an SUV

McLaren CEO Promises ‘Shared Performance Vehicle,’ Which Is Really Just an SUV photo
McLaren CEO Promises ‘Shared Performance Vehicle,’ Which Is Really Just an SUV photo

McLaren hopes to be gearing up for a revival after having a seriously rough go of it these last few years. The maker of the unforgettable F1 and P1 hypercars posted revenue losses of more than $1 billion in 2023 due to low sales, and it was without a CEO at a pivotal moment during the global pandemic. Now under new ownership and executive leadership, McLaren is poised for a triumphant return to profitability, and the fastest way there for embattled supercar manufacturers is with a new SUV... Because of course.

McLaren's new CEO Micheal Leiters won't explicitly say it's making an SUV for a few reasons, starting with his predecessor Mike Flewitt stressing that McLaren would never build an SUV. Instead, Leiters told Road & Track that McLaren is building a "shared performance vehicle," or SPV, instead. McLaren's family car will be less "sport utility" and more shared utility, or performance, or whatever, relying on an unnamed partner to supply a platform.

This is a classic move by a supercar maker that is loathe to admit it needs an SUV in the short term to generate profit and keep making the machines it's known for in the first place. Road & Track says that McLaren lost over half a million dollars on every last one of the 2,137 supercars it sold in 2023.


So, that new SPV can't come soon enough if McLaren wants to get back to the business of making incredible machines, which Leiters promises will remain the goal, saying "...we want to become a sustainable company. This is based on the segment we are in today—so supercars and ultimate cars. That is what our first focus is." The thing is, SUVs are more lucrative than supercars, as Aston Martin, Ferrari, and Lamborghini could attest, which is what prompted the release of the DBX, Purosangue, and Urus, respectively.

Leiters goes on, telling R&T that in order "to unlock our full potential as a company, we believe there is a second enlarge and expand our lineup beyond the segment where we are today. We have called this ‘shared performance,’ because you can share the performance with more people than you can have in a McLaren today."

McLaren's SPV, or SPVs if there ends up being more than one version as R&T mentions, will probably be a hybrid and signs point to it being a plug-in built with a partner by integrating a McLaren "powertrain into an existing platform," per Leiters. That takes care of quite a bit of expensive development, saving McLaren even more money since it could borrow this new SPV's platform and use a current or proposed powertrain from the Artura or the upcoming replacement to the 750S.

That means the "shared" model could either be powered by a hybrid twin-turbo V6 or by a plug-in V8. If McLaren chooses the latter powertrain, Road & Track points out that BMW is a possible partner and that the SPV could be built atop the platform of BMW's current V8 PHEV, the XM. Leiters went on to say that the core attribute of McLaren supercars is being lightweight, so a possible BMW M Division and McLaren partnership could yield a lighter plug-in hybrid SUV through mass reduction.

That lightweight SPV would reportedly cost somewhere around $400,000, and those proceeds would then be put in McLaren's war chest as it goes into the great EV unknown to build what it calls the "first EV supercar." But it has to make it out of the woods first, and McLaren seems intent that the SUV/SPV is the way out.

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