A sport utility vehicle is a less-than-ideal starting point for a performance vehicle. Compared to typical passenger cars, SUVs are heavier and taller, making them inherently slower and less adept at corning, but that’s not why McLaren will never build a utility vehicle.
“There is nothing cool about an SUV,” Darren Goddard, director of McLaren’s Sports Series, told Australia’s Car Sales.
That’s right, the reason McLaren will never make an SUV has nothing to do with driving dynamics—it’s all about the cool factor.
Goddard also notes that adding an SUV to the McLaren lineup could spoil the brand’s exclusivity. McLaren wants to cap its annual production at about 6,000 units, and Goddard estimates that an SUV would bump that figure to around 15,000 units.
“Thinking about the difference between mass production and an exclusive product is quite different,” he said.
Even if McLaren wanted to move forward with an SUV, it would be a difficult task. The company’s cars ride exclusively on a carbon fiber chassis that would be next to impossible to modify for SUV use. As such, McLaren would have to sink considerable time and money into developing a new SUV platform.
Although a McLaren SUV isn’t on the horizon, a pure electric sports car from the British brand is. Goddard says McLaren currently has a few EV test mules, and the company is also exploring a partnership with McLaren Applied Technologies to develop battery-powered vehicles.
Timing for a McLaren EV is unclear, but it won’t be in the immediate future. The company is still trying to figure out how a battery-powered sports car should feel and sound. McLaren is also determined to design its own EV chassis rather than purchase an off-the-shelf solution from another manufacturer, which will add to the development time.
“We’re in more of an evaluation program than a development program,” Goddard said of the brand's first EV.