The soon to be independent McLaren Automotive plans to launch what it calls an "eco-friendly" supercar in two years. McLaren Group CEO Ron Dennis announced on Thursday that the company was being restructured and the road car division would be spun off later this year as an separate company as it winds down production of the Mercedes SLR. Dennis is stepping aside from the Formula One race team to focus on bringing a new range of sports cars to market, including the car currently code named P11.
The P11 is expected to cost about $275,000 when it launches and will incorporate technology from the racing side. Like the original McLaren F1 of the 90s, the P11 is expected to be made largely of carbon fiber to keep weight to a minimum. The new car is also expected to incorporate the KERS hybrid drive system being developed by the formula one team in order to improve both the efficiency and performance of the car.
[Source: AutoExpress, McLaren]
McLaren restructures Group to create independent McLaren Automotive company
At a press conference held this morning at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, Surrey (UK), McLaren Group Chairman Ron Dennis announced a major restructuring of the McLaren Group.
McLaren has for more than two years been engaged in a programme to develop a range of pure McLaren sports cars that will build on the great successes of the McLaren F1 and Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. As part of this plan, it is intended that McLaren Automotive, currently one of a number of companies within the McLaren Group, will become an independent company later this year. The launch date for the first model in the new range of McLaren sports cars will be in 2011.
McLaren Automotive is intending to raise fresh equity in addition to the existing investment in the business to complete the development of the planned vehicle programmes. It has appointed Credit Suisse as its financial advisor, to facilitate this process.
Ron Dennis said: "With planned additional investment in the company of £250 million, proposals in place for a new McLaren car production facility in the UK, and the potential for up to 800 skilled jobs, McLaren Automotive's expansion will represent a significant investment in the UK automotive industry."
A number of organisational changes have also been announced today, which are designed to facilitate the next stage of McLaren's corporate development:
- As Executive Chairman of McLaren Automotive, Ron Dennis will lead the growth of the new sports car business. As of today, Ron Dennis has handed his responsibility as Chief Executive Officer of McLaren Racing to Martin Whitmarsh, who will be responsible to the board for the activities of McLaren Racing in addition to his role of Team Principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.
- On June 1st 2009 Richard Lapthorne will be appointed Non Executive Chairman of the McLaren Group and a Non Executive Director of McLaren Automotive.
Richard Lapthorne said: "This is a very exciting time to be joining the McLaren Group and to be working closely with Ron and his team on McLaren Automotive's expansion into the sports car market. It's a rare opportunity to be involved at a key stage in the development of a British sports car company of an entirely new sort, especially one that has such a great racing pedigree and such a world-class reputation as McLaren."
Reflecting on his life in Formula 1, Ron Dennis concluded by saying: "I passed the role of Team Principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes to Martin Whitmarsh on January 16th, the day of the launch of our new Formula 1 car. That day I was asked many times whether I would attend the 2009 Australian Grand Prix. My answer was "yes". I duly attended it – albeit not as the person in charge of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. It was, I admit, a strange feeling.
"The next race, the Malaysian Grand Prix, I watched on TV in the UK – an activity I found surprisingly easy. I'd expected to be more emotional about it, after an unbroken run of attending so many grands prix for so many years.
"I admit I'm not always easy to get on with. I admit I've always fought hard for McLaren in Formula 1. I doubt if Max Mosley or Bernie Ecclestone will be displeased by my decision. But no-one asked me to do it. It was my decision.
"Equally, I was the architect of today's restructure of the McLaren Group. Again, no-one asked me to do it. It was my decision.
"I feel enormously enthused about the prospects for the McLaren Group and for McLaren Automotive, and have no qualms about leaving Martin to report to the board regarding matters connected with Formula 1."
Notes to editors:
- The McLaren Group comprises McLaren Automotive, McLaren Racing, McLaren Marketing, McLaren Electronic Systems, McLaren Applied Technologies and Absolute Taste.
The shareholding of the McLaren Group is as follows: Daimler (Mercedes-Benz) 40%; Bahraini Mumtalakat Holding Company 30%; Tag Group (Mansour Ojjeh) 15%; Ron Dennis 15%
- From 1993 until 1998, McLaren Cars (the forerunner to McLaren Automotive) designed and manufactured the iconic McLaren F1 super sports car. McLaren Automotive has successfully designed and manufactured the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren range of premium sports cars over the past six years, and will continue to do so until the end of 2009.
- Richard Lapthorne is Chairman of Cable and Wireless plc. Recently he was also Chairman of Morse plc and of the private equity owned fashion retailer New Look. His career started with Unilever where in 18 years he worked in the UK, Paris, Holland and Africa. He then moved to Courtaulds plc as Group Financial Controller, becoming Finance Director in 1986 as well as Chairman of the US Group. He joined British Aerospace plc in July 1992 and was a key member of the management team responsible for transforming the company into Europe's leading aerospace and defence company. He retired as Vice Chairman in 1999. He started his non-executive career with Amersham International plc in 1989, becoming Chairman from 1996 until 2003. He has held a number of other directorships including Robert Fleming, the merchant bank, Oasis International Leasing in Abu Dhabi, Chairman of Avecia (spun off from Astra Zeneca), Chairman of TI Automotive (spun off from Smiths Group), Chairman of Tunstall and Chairman of Arlington Securities. Between 1999 and 2004 he served on the Navy Board. He led the Working Age project in 2000. He is a current member of the HMRC large business advisory board. He is the Queen's Trustee at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
- Ron Dennis has been a pioneering force within motorsport since he began his career 42 years ago. In 1966 he joined the Cooper Racing Car Company and progressed to join the Brabham Racing team where in 1968 he was appointed to the position of Chief Mechanic to Sir Jack Brabham. Three years later Ron launched his own company, Rondel Racing, which won races in the Formula 2 Championship. During the 1970s he ran a number of highly successful teams, mainly concentrating on Formula 2 but also competing with distinction in the Procar Championship. In 1980 Ron's most recent company, Project Four, merged with Team McLaren Ltd to form McLaren Racing. This was to be the catalyst for the great success and diversification that McLaren has enjoyed to date. Since 1980, McLaren has won seven Constructors' World Championships and ten Drivers' World Championships. In 1989 Ron co-founded McLaren Cars, which designed and manufactured the revolutionary F1 road car of 1994; now renamed McLaren Automotive, the company produces the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren sports car on behalf of Daimler. Ron's entrepreneurial skills have seen the McLaren Group grow and diversify. It currently encompasses McLaren Automotive, McLaren Electronic Systems, McLaren Applied Technologies, McLaren Marketing and Absolute Taste, all in addition to the flagship, McLaren Racing and its Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 team. During the year 2000 Ron was honoured with a CBE for services to motorsport. In 2001 he was presented with a BRDC Gold Medal in recognition for his contribution to motorsport. He was also awarded an Hon DTech from De Montfort University in 1996, an Hon DSc from City University (London) in 1997 and, in 2000, an Hon DSc from the University of Surrey. In January 2009 Ron announced that he would pass the role of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Team Principal to Martin Whitmarsh.