Having recently parted company from Mercedes Benz, hired a new design director and started work on a successor to the vaunted F1, the team at McLaren is busy as ever. But that hasn't deterred Ron Dennis, the man who guided Lewis Hamilton to an F1 World Championship win last year, from building up McLaren’s automotive division, which he intends to turn into a volume sports car business.
McLaren currently builds about 100 road cars per year but Dennis hopes to boost this to around 1,000 units by the start of 2011 and eventually reach an annual production rate of 4,000 cars. This would allow the company to finally compete directly with Ferrari and Lamborghini in terms of volume.
Speaking with the Financial Times, Dennis said that volume production would also allow McLaren to make a "far more affordable" car. There has been speculation that McLaren is preparing three new models, with one priced below the $100,000 mark. The only model confirmed for launch thus far is a new supercar aimed at cars like the Ferrari F430 and Lamborghini Gallardo, which you can see spy shots of in our previous story.
The global financial crisis has taken its toll on Dennis’ plans, though he believes now is the right time to "power through the recession." Dennis predicts sales in the high-end sports car segment could halve from the current 24,000 units per year level but explains that by 2011 the recession should be over.
Apart from launching a new model, McLaren plans to create 400 new jobs, increase its market valuation and eventually float its automotive division.
Dennis is currently positioned as McLaren’s chairman and chief executive. He also owns a 15% stake in the company along with a number of other investors including Daimler AG, the Bahraini Mumtalakat Holding Company and TAG Group.