McLaren Automotive Ltd., famed for its Formula One racing arm, will begin deliveries for its 700,000-pound ($1.1 million) P1 supercar in the second half of next year as it extends its challenge to Ferrari SpA from track to road.
“We will start deliveries starting from Europe, and Japan will be a little after that,” Managing Director Antony Sheriff said in an interview in Tokyo on Oct. 19. Details of the supercar, including the engine type, will be announced at next year’s Geneva Motor Show, he said.
P1, the successor to the F1, the fastest road car in the world in 1998, was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show and will bolster McLaren’s offerings as Sheriff targets to double annual sales in four years. The supercar will catapult McLaren to the same league as Aston Martin’s One-77 and Bugatti’s Veyron and strengthen its lineup to compete with Ferrari, according to Yoshiaki Kawano, a Tokyo-based analyst at IHS Automotive.
“What McLaren is doing with the P1 is similar to Ferrari’s Enzo or F50,” said Kawano. “They are both top-of-the-line cars that can add exclusiveness to the supercar brand.”
Annual sales of supercars, which sell for more than 400,000 Swiss francs ($432,000), will almost double to 3,286 in 2014 from 1,731 in 2010, before it flattens out, according to IHS estimates. Growth in supercar sales will mostly come from North America and Asia, Kawano said.
Ferrari expects to sell 7,400 cars this year and will be close to record, Chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo said last month. The company introduced its four-seat 260,000-euro FF, its first four-wheel drive model, in March.
McLaren will produce no more than 500 P1 cars to ensure its exclusiveness, Sheriff said.
“This is a very complicated technological car and we will be building it at a rate of no higher than one car per day, so there will just be a small handful of cars next year but then there will be at least a couple of hundred in 2014,” said Sheriff. “For many of the customers buying it, they want to make sure that is not going to be a car that is available in thousands. The exact number will be decided in the next a few months.”
McLaren is counting on new models to compete against Fiat SpA (F)’s Ferrari and Volkswagen AG’s (VOW) Lamborghini in supercar sales. The Woking, U.K.-based carmaker is also seeking to add to its dealership network in Asia, including China.
The carmaker will have eight dealerships in China by early 2014, with the first four to open in the first half of next year, Ian Gorsuch, McLaren’s Asia Pacific director, said in an interview on Oct. 19 in Tokyo. It’s “in the very last stages” to announce the China dealers, he said.
The company will also add dealerships in the coming months in Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan, Gorsuch said.
The expansion in the region comes as the European debt crisis saps demand even for high-priced cars for the wealthy.
Europe’s debt crisis and declining equity markets slowed the increase in global wealth last year with a 1.9 percent gain to $122.8 trillion compared with a 6.8 percent growth rate in 2010, Boston Consulting Group said in a report in May.
Global wealth will grow at 4 percent to 5 percent during the next five years, driven by wealth creation in emerging markets, especially Asia, excluding Japan, according to the Boston-based firm. The region saw an 11 percent increase to $23.7 trillion and will maintain that growth rate to surpass private wealth in Europe over the next five years, it said.
That may be encouraging makers of supercars and luxury vehicles to unveil new models and expand in emerging markets.
“The European market has its challenges,” said Sheriff. “There are other markets, such as the United States or markets in Asia that are doing extraordinarily well. So that’s one of the reasons why we’ve decided to launch immediately across the globe in 22 different countries.”
At the Paris show last month, Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz introduced an electric version of the SLS gull-wing sportster, which will be the brand’s most expensive model ever with a price tag of 416,500 euros ($543,574).
McLaren aims to double annual sales to 3,000 vehicles by around 2016 as it adds one model a year to its lineup, Sheriff said. Ferrari’s global deliveries rose 9.5 percent to a record 7,195 cars last year led by sales in the U.S. and China.
The British supercar maker introduced the MP4-12C spider in June, a year after the company debuted the MP4-12C road car. It expects to deliver as many as 1,500 of the cars annually, Sheriff said.
“The 12C is very profitable for us and is in fact helping fund future development,” Sheriff said. “Once we have a full product line on the market, then we will be in a position we believe to be a solidly profitable company.”
McLaren has no immediately plans to sell shares in an initial public offering, Sheriff said.
“At the moment, our goal is to build a sportscar company,” he said.
The carmaker’s latest model, costing almost three times the price of MP4-12C, may hold the key to its future performance.
“Since this is the third car of McLaren, its success and that of the MP4-12C will decide whether the company can introduce more cars of different ranges,” said Kawano.