McLaren’s newly appointed CEO Michael Leiters sat down and had an interesting conversation Evo about past branding mistakes and how to fix future problems. 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. This German-born executive holds a doctorate in engineering and a diploma in mechanical engineering from RWTH Aachen University.
He was candid about the problems McLaren was having prior to his July 2022 arrival as Chief Executive Officer:
“What I’ve heard from my team here is that in the past we received a product that wasn’t mature and would roll it out and ship it to the customer. Artura was the first project where we didn’t do that. We saw the car was immature, so we stopped delivery. We were already experiencing significant delays in our production line at that time and we reduced them [production] to zero [cars] a day to fix our quality problems.”
He went on to mention the consequences of this decision “putting the company’s financial position at risk.” As noted in its third quarter earnings report, Artura requires “certain technical upgrades”. To get the necessary funds, McLaren confirmed Automotive News a Woking-based supercar maker that has sold several of its historic cars. It was bought by Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat Holding – which owns nearly 60 per cent of the company – for £100 million ($121.7 million at current exchange rates). However, the same A reports say that the cash infusion is not enough.
Lest we forget that in April 2021, McLaren is selling its headquarters – including factory F1 – for nearly $240 million to New York-based real estate investment firm Global Net Lease. As part of the deal, McLaren will be the lessee for the next 20 years.
Back to the interview, says Michael Leiters Evo that the focus going forward will be on quality. He mentioned McLaren had informed dealers and customers that this apology would no longer be used: “The car went really fast and it was really exciting and whatever, so please forgive us for some quality issues. Not again.”
Upon arrival this past summer, “some things got worse, some things got better.” One of the main goals is to simplify the lineup to avoid product overlap. New additions to the lineup are still possible, with Evo reports McLaren may be building a front-engined petrol model and even an SUV.
An electric sedan to rival the Porsche Taycan / Audi E-Tron GT is being considered, but the CEO believes the technology isn’t ready for a full-fledged electric supercar. Of course, Rimac with Nevera, Lotus with Evija, and Pininfarina with Battista will all disagree.