Jul 17, 2009

McLaren Goes After Ferrari

 

From Motor Trend 09

By Angus MacKenzie

The on-track rivalry between the Ferrari and McLaren Formula 1 teams has been one of the most intense and hard fought in the history of grand prix racing. Now McLaren wants to take that battle to the streets. If surprise plans announced by McLaren Group chairman Ron Dennis today come to fruition, within five years McLaren Automotive, the division of the Group that currently builds the Mercedes-McLaren SLR, will be a stand alone company building up to 4000 high-performance sports car a year.

Centerpiece of the plan is an all-new mid-engine McLaren sports car codenamed P11. Dennis gave no detail about the car, but it is a Ferrari F430-sized coupe. The P11’s design is the work of talented American Frank Stephenson, whose credits include the new Mini and the new Fiat 500, and stints at Ferrari, Maserati and Alfa Romeo. It’s a handsome, relatively conventional looking coupe that appears to feature advanced aerodynamics, including a flat floor and movable rear wing.

112_0902_03l+mclaren_p11+front_three_quarter

Given F1 division McLaren Racing’s long standing engineering expertise — the team was the first to use structural carbon fiber in a grand prix car, for example — it’s reasonable to assume P11 will feature extensive use of lightweight materials and sophisticated electronic controls. While no details of the engine or transmission have been released, sources close to McLaren say the car will offer significantly higher levels of performance than either the Ferrari F430 or the Lamborghini Gallardo.

Dennis says McLaren Automotive has been working on the P11 for more than two years. More than 20 prototypes have been built and are undergoing testing. The silver-grey coupe shown briefly to assembled media at the high-tech, high-style McLaren Technology Center in Woking, England, will be the show car. Sources say the P11 may make its public debut at this year’s LA Auto Show.

One detail seems clear: the P11 will not be powered by a Mercedes-Benz engine. While Mercedes parent company Daimler owns 40 percent of McLaren Group, it will ultimately have no interest in McLaren Automotive, says Dennis. McLaren is seeking $370 million in equity funding from outside investors for a 49 percent stake in the Automotive division. “We have already secured commitments to a significant percentage of that funding,” said Dennis. “It is intended this whole project is run from beginning to end debt free.”

P11 will be the first in a range of sports cars from McLaren, says Dennis. Though he refused to be drawn on detail, a look at how Ferrari has expanded the F430 range suggests future P11 variants will include a convertible version, and an ultra-light, track-oriented model to rival the Scuderia. The P11 will also be a global car, and the company is already talking with potential dealers in the United States. “This is not just a new car,” says McLaren Automotive managing director Antony Sheriff, “but a new car company.”

McLaren plans to build the P11 and its variants in a new factory in England, employing up to 800 people.

 

The on-track rivalry between the Ferrari and McLaren Formula 1 teams has been one of the most intense and hard fought in the history of grand prix racing. Now McLaren wants to take that battle to the streets. If surprise plans announced by McLaren Group chairman Ron Dennis today come to fruition, within five years McLaren Automotive, the division of the Group that currently builds the Mercedes-McLaren SLR, will be a stand alone company building up to 4000 high-performance sports car a year.
Centerpiece of the plan is an all-new mid-engine McLaren sports car codenamed P11. Dennis gave no detail about the car, but it is a Ferrari F430-sized coupe. The P11’s design is the work of talented American Frank Stephenson, whose credits include the new Mini and the new Fiat 500, and stints at Ferrari, Maserati and Alfa Romeo. It’s a handsome, relatively conventional looking coupe that appears to feature advanced aerodynamics, including a flat floor and movable rear wing.
Given F1 division McLaren Racing’s long standing engineering expertise — the team was the first to use structural carbon fiber in a grand prix car, for example — it’s reasonable to assume P11 will feature extensive use of lightweight materials and sophisticated electronic controls. While no details of the engine or transmission have been released, sources close to McLaren say the car will offer significantly higher levels of performance than either the Ferrari F430 or the Lamborghini Gallardo.
Dennis says McLaren Automotive has been working on the P11 for more than two years. More than 20 prototypes have been built and are undergoing testing. The silver-grey coupe shown briefly to assembled media at the high-tech, high-style McLaren Technology Center in Woking, England, will be the show car. Sources say the P11 may make its public debut at this year’s LA Auto Show.
One detail seems clear: the P11 will not be powered by a Mercedes-Benz engine. While Mercedes parent company Daimler owns 40 percent of McLaren Group, it will ultimately have no interest in McLaren Automotive, says Dennis. McLaren is seeking $370 million in equity funding from outside investors for a 49 percent stake in the Automotive division. “We have already secured commitments to a significant percentage of that funding,” said Dennis. “It is intended this whole project is run from beginning to end debt free.”
P11 will be the first in a range of sports cars from McLaren, says Dennis. Though he refused to be drawn on detail, a look at how Ferrari has expanded the F430 range suggests future P11 variants will include a convertible version, and an ultra-light, track-oriented model to rival the Scuderia. The P11 will also be a global car, and the company is already talking with potential dealers in the United States. “This is not just a new car,” says McLaren Automotive managing director Antony Sheriff, “but a new car company.”
McLaren plans to build the P11 and its variants in a new factory in England, employing up to 800 people.

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