McLaren's newly appointed CEO Michael Leiters sat down and had an interesting chat with Evo about the brand's past mistakes and how to remedy problems in the future. He used to work for Porsche as Product Line Director and for Ferrari as Chief Technology Officer, so he knows a thing or two about high-end sports cars. The German-born executive holds a doctorate in engineering and a mechanical engineering diploma from RWTH Aachen University.
He was refreshingly honest about the issues McLaren had before his arrival in July 2022 as Chief Executive Officer:
"What I heard from my team here is that in the past we accepted a non-mature product and would launch it and deliver it to the customers. The Artura was the first project where we didn't do that. We saw that the car wasn't mature, so we stopped deliveries. We already had a significant delay in our production line at the time and we reduced [production] to zero [cars] a day to fix our quality problems."
2022 McLaren Artura
He went on to mention the consequences of these decisions "risked the financial position of the company." As mentioned in the third-quarter earnings report, the Artura needs "certain technical upgrades." To get the necessary funds, McLaren confirmed to Automotive News the Woking-based supercar maker that it has sold some of its historic cars. These were bought by Bahrain's sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat Holding – which has a nearly 60 percent stake in the company – for £100 million ($121.7M at current exchange rates). However, the same AN report mentions that cash infusion isn't enough.
Lest we forget that back in April 2021, McLaren sold its headquarters – including the F1 factory – for nearly $240M to New York-based real estate investment company Global Net Lease. As part of the deal, McLaren will be a tenant for the next 20 years.
Getting back to the interview, Michael Leiters told Evo that focus going forward will be on quality. He mentioned McLaren has informed dealers and customers it will no longer use this apology: "The car is driving so fast and is so engaging and whatever, so please forgive us some quality issues. Not anymore."
Upon his arrival this past summer, "some things were worse, some things were better." One of his main objectives is to simplify the lineup to avoid product overlap. New additions to the lineup are still possible, with Evo reporting McLaren might do a front-engined petrol model and even an SUV.
An electric saloon to rival the Porsche Taycan / Audi E-Tron GT is under consideration, but the CEO believes the technology is not ready yet for a fully fledged electric supercar. Of course, Rimac with its Nevera, Lotus with the Evija, and Pininfarina with the Battista would all beg to differ.