McLaren’s ever-expanding range of supercars have seen its sales increase by close to 50 per cent, as it takes on the traditional supercar makers of Ferrari and Lamborghini.
Speaking this week with CarAdvice at the Geneva motor show, the brand’s executive director of global sales and marketing/member of the board, Jolyon Nash, said the company’s ‘purity of focus’ – delivering cars customers want – has allowed its rapid expansion around the world.
“The last five years have been very good,” Nash told us with a smile.
“I think from a volume point of view in 2014 we sold 1500 cars (650s) and last year we did 4800 cars, that’s a 44 per cent growth.”
McLaren sold 116 cars in 2017, but was down to 88 in 2018 in Australia. For comparison, Ferrari Australia sold 241 cars last year (up from 210 the year before), while Lamborghini moved 132 cars (up from 122 in 2017).
The current McLaren lineup, which includes the Sports, Super and Ultimate series is continually expanding, with five models falling under the Sport Series banner, the 720S Coupe and Spider in the Super Series, and an almost never-ending flow of exclusive models in the Ultimate Series.
According to Nash, McLaren shifted 250 Sennas were sold globally last year, with the remaining 250 (and the 75 Senna GTR models) to be delivered this year.
Nash says McLaren has been profitable since its third year of operation, and its ability to act quickly – thanks to independent shareholders – has been its key to success. Nonetheless, it has worked hard to educate the market about what it stands for and how its lineup works, considering it has more models than both Ferrari and Lamborghini.
“Initially, perhaps there was not the clearest understanding of our product strategy," Nash said.
"We spent the last couple of years since we announced, ‘Track 22’, explaining it. I think amongst our customers there is a greater understanding of what we are doing," he continued.
"We have explained that broadly speaking the lifecycle [for a model] would be five years, launch with a coupe then 18 months to two years follow with Spider, then last couple of years, high performance model like an LT. That’s starting to be understood by our customers.”
Nash says that the introduction of the 720S has helped define the range, which may have otherwise been a little confused with the initial progression from 12C to 650S, and the introduction of the Sport Series that followed.
“I think when the 720 came out it very clearly demonstrated big difference between Super Series and Sports Series cars, that has made our jobs easier,” he said, arguing McLaren’s biggest advantage remains its independence over Ferrari (Fiat) and Lamborghini (Volkswagen Group).
“[We are] not owned by a big OEM, [so there is] no bureaucracy. [We have] shareholders who are a small group of private shareholders and love what we do, the right thing for the brand.”
“[We have a] purity of focus, McLaren is what it should be. Cars that are lightweight, high performance, extremely engaging to drive. We learn lessons quickly...
"But I would also say that whilst we have sold 4800 cars last year we haven’t done it at the expense of someone else. In this kind of segment, product drives sales. The people we are talking to, selling to, own a number of cars, they are not often faced with 'do I buy a 720S coupe, or another car?' It isn’t always the case," Nash explained.
McLaren’s global rise in the supercar world has been nothing short of extraordinary, against brands with significantly longer history and brand equity. What do you think of the British brand’s current lineup?