McLaren drives into Middle East with MP4-12C
The global automotive sector has just started to show signs of recovery after being battered by the global slowdown. But that has not put off luxury super carmakers to drive into the Middle East market. The latest to join the bandwagon, McLaren Automotive, is launching its debut high-performance sports car – McLaren MP4-12C – that will go on sale in the Middle East next year. Ian Gorsuch, Regional Director for Middle East and Africa, McLaren Automotive, part of the UK-based McLaren Group, said the Middle East is a key market for his company and anticipates that about 10 per cent of the company's total sales will be in the Middle East.
What prompted McLaren Automotive to launch the car in this turbulent time?
We started work on the MP4-12C project a long time before the onset of the slowdown. However, this has not harmed its development. In fact, we have been lucky in that we have been involved in the final stages of both the creation of the first car and the company during these difficult economic times. Sales begin in early 2011 when we believe that the world economy should be well on the road to recovery.
How do you plan to brace for the challenges super racing cars are facing in global markets?
From a company perspective, our business case is not based on any of the boom sales times of the past two years, but a more conservative level. Thus we have a robust business plan both for us and our retail partners. In terms of car sales, we have seen some of the other luxury sports car manufacturers reducing production in 2009 to bring stocks back into line. However, we are confident our volume plans are very realistic, despite the slump.
What prompted McLaren to launch the sports car in this region?
The Middle East is a key market for us. The region has proven to be one of the fastest-growing areas for premium vehicles and performance-driven brands and our new range of sports cars will sit well in the market here. Customers here are well informed and passionate. They are aware of the McLaren brand from Formula One, the F1 road car and the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. Once we have our sales and support network in place, I expect our new car to be very well received.
Have you finalised retail partners in the UAE and the location of the head office in the region?
We are in the process of selecting our UAE partner and the location of our head office. We cannot confirm details yet, but we expect to make an announcement shortly.
The UAE has a number of sports cars on its roads. How do you plan to strengthen your brand visibility here?
People in the UAE have a real passion for, and understanding of, high-end sports cars, which is one reason it is important for us to build a strong base here. For them, the brand name of McLaren carries weight, both in terms of our motorsport experience and our previous road car-building programme. We know which competitors we will be benchmarked against and are confident of our performance against theirs.
What would be the price point of McLaren MP4-12C in the UAE? Will you follow a different pricing strategy here in the current market conditions?
The McLaren MP4-12C will sit in the 'core' sports car market segment for cars costing between £125,000 (Dh732,875) and £175,000. We expect high demand, so detaxed pricing will be consistent worldwide.
What's your expectation from the UAE market, and how many cars do you expect to sell here in the first year?
We anticipate about 10 per cent of the company's total sales will be in the Middle East and in the first year we will produce 1,000 models. Alongside Saudi Arabia, the UAE will be our key market in the region.
The MP4-12C is being dubbed as a successor to the McLaren F1. How would you react to that?
The two cars are very different and targeted at different markets. The McLaren MP4-12C is a high-performance two-seat mid-engine model that features a revolutionary carbon fibre chassis structure, the Carbon MonoCell, the first time any car has featured a one-piece carbon fibre structure. Another difference is the F1 was built in very small numbers, sold by McLaren, and maintained by our engineers. The 12C is the first of a range of cars that will be sold through approved and trained dealers and maintained through a network or service points.
Apart from the MP4-12C, does McLaren have plans to roll out other super sports cars in the near future?
Very much so. The MP4-12C is the first in a range of sports cars that McLaren will be launching over the coming years.
Does MP4-12C convey any message?
Absolutely. MP4 stands for McLaren Project 4 and has been the chassis designation for all McLaren Formula 1 cars since 1981. The 12 represents our focus on complete performance and efficiency and refers to the internal index through which we rate key performance criteria both for competitors and for our own cars. Finally, the C represents the revolutionary Carbon MonoCell used in the MP4-12C.
PROFILE: Ian Gorsuch Regional Director for MEA, McLaren Automotive
Before joining McLaren Automotive, Gorsuch served as a British army officer in Germany, Ireland and the UK. After working with the Vestey Group in Brazil, Australia, South Korea and Hong Kong, he joined the Remy Cointreau Group in 1992. Gorsuch joined Bentley in 1998, working at the factory in Crewe and then becoming regional director, MEA & India, based in Dubai. In Dubai, he was a vice-president with the InterContinental Hotels Group in 2008. Gorsuch joined McLaren as MEA head in April 2009.
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