McLaren: the SUV is finally on its way
It’s the car McLaren vowed never to build – but a new CEO brings a new plan, says Phil McNamara.
SUV TO BOOST MCLAREN
McLaren Automotive’s ban on SUVs is no more as new CEO Michael Leiters launches his turnaround plan. ‘I think McLaren can become more profitable if we think about new segments and car concepts,’ he says. ‘Why shouldn’t [we] offer something for a totally different purpose without negating the brand DNA?’
LIGHTWEIGHT FOR A 4X4
‘There has to be an important element of carbonfibre to be brand-credible – and light,’ says the CEO. Leiters has a team looking into how its MCLA lightweight architecture could be re-engineered for a five-seater. But McLaren isn’t ruling out a composite body on an aluminium chassis – like BMW’s i3 EV and i8 hybrid.
FIRST SUV, FIRST EV
The SUV is set to be the first fully electric McLaren. Leiters doesn’t believe today’s lithiumion batteries have the energy density to deliver a supercar, but they could be stacked into a family McLaren. With the car four years away, tech spec is far from clear, but McLaren could slaughter another sacred cow: adopting all-wheel drive.
CALLING NEW PARTNERS
McLaren is actively seeking partnerships to deliver its SUV. BMW provides the Artura’s battery cells but an insider says an EV supply deal is a long shot. Same applies to the architecture and assembly, which could be outsourced. All being well, McLaren’s Woking hub will be at capacity and isn’t geared up for a five-door EV.
Several things need to fall into place for the SUV to land in 2026
- POWERTRAIN Three electric motors, all-wheel drive
- CHASSIS Hybrid carbonfibre aluminium monocoque
- DUE 2026