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Old 10-08-2009, 07:04 AM
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Design: everything for a reason

The McLaren MP4-12C design follows similar principles to McLaren’s Formula 1 cars, and the legendary McLaren F1, where everything is for a reason and all lines, surfaces, and details are designed with a job in mind as much as styled. This ensures that the 12C communicates its engineering through its styling and will remain timeless as a piece of automotive design.

Frank Stephenson, McLaren Automotive Design Director: “Many sports cars and super cars present an ‘in-your-face’, ‘look-at-me’ image that can become wearing and boorish; the ultimate backhanded compliment becomes, “…it was of its time”. Great design, however, is timeless and looks relevant years later. Take the McLaren F1 as an example. I hope that with the 12C we have produced a car that looks great today and will still look great in years to come.”

The 12C’s body has been styled to support sector-leading levels of downforce; downforce that then subsequently contributes to sector-leading levels of lateral grip and stability. Air flow has been manically managed to support all performance figures and light weight targets. For example, placing the radiators adjacent to the engine keeps the car narrow and reduces weight. However, this results in a huge challenge of ensuring ample air flow to the radiators. The result? The large side air scoops and integrated turning vanes that are dramatic, but purely functional. No larger or smaller than required.

The designer’s challenge is to then take that styling purpose driven by engineering aspirations and add personality. That’s why the air scoops resemble the McLaren logo in form, as do other features around the car.

Just two ‘pure’ lines flow round the car and, when combined with the integration of several dramatic convex and concave surfaces, present a car that looks compact, low and well proportioned.


The market opportunity for McLaren

“I am confident that now is the right time for McLaren Automotive to become a full line high performance sports car manufacturer,” stated Ron Dennis.

“Worldwide demand for high performance cars is strong, in large part because of great cars from great competitors. With McLaren joining that list, it will grow stronger still. What we are offering is a new approach to the market, through a skilled, solid, debt-free and risk-managed company. McLaren is right to take this step now and support future growth of high-technology manufacturing and engineering jobs in the UK,” Dennis declared.

The market for high performance sports cars has grown substantially since the turn of the century. McLaren divides the market into segments that encompass both more comfort–orientated GT cars and the hard-edged supercars for road and track use.

The ‘core’ segment runs from around £125,000 to £175,000 featuring such cars as the Ferrari 458, Lamborghini Gallardo, Porsche 911 Turbo, Bentley Continental GT and Aston Martin DB9. A second segment is the ‘high’ category with prices ranging from £175,000 to £250,000 and consists largely of front-engined GT cars such as Ferrari’s 599 GTB and 612, with just one mid-engined contender, the Lamborghini Murcielago.

The final segment is the ‘ultimate’ group, a sector more or less initiated by the McLaren F1 in 1993 and now populated by a select group of cars including the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, Bugatti Veyron, and cars from the likes of Pagani and Koenigsegg that followed legends such as the Porsche Carrera GT and Ferrari Enzo. In 2011, McLaren will bring technology and performance exclusive to this ‘ultimate’ sector into the ‘core’ segment.

Although the recent economic downturn has affected the performance car sector, just as it has the entire motor industry, McLaren Automotive believes that the ‘core’ segment’s growth from 8,000 sales in 2000 to more than 28,000 in 2007 highlights the potential that exists and that it will soon return to at least 2007 levels.

“By the time the 12C is launched in 2011 we expect the economic conditions to be much improved. We have already seen significant interest in the car and the supply of the 12C will be relatively scarce; in its first year we plan to produce just 1,000 cars which represents only 3.5 per cent of the ‘core’ market,” explained Antony Sheriff.

“We have created ground-breaking new technology, lightweight engineering solutions, and harnessed real-world motor racing applications. It brings new levels of performance, fuel efficiency and practicality to the 12C’s segment. And it will be more exclusive than its principal competition with a price that reflects its lack of ubiquity,” he said.

McLaren Automotive will distribute the 12C and future models through a brand-new retail network in all global markets.

Exclusivity, exquisite design and a passionate focus on delivering a wonderful ownership experience will ensure that the small number of retailers around the world are taking on an attractive new brand. This approach will drive excellent customer service and a virtuous circle that retains McLaren customers and brings in new converts as the range expands.
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