The signs from McLaren have been worrying for a while now, particularly after the company sold its iconic headquarters in April for $236 million. Now, its CEO has resigned.
That would be Mike Flewitt, who took the job in July 2013. Flewitt is known for saying a good thing about cars once, and also declaring McLaren too cool to make an SUV. I’m not sure McLaren is in trouble, exactly, but the pandemic has not been kind to it, like other automakers. Its Formula 1 team is also very middling. McLaren in 2021 doesn’t seem to have much of a point, in other words, especially in an age of EVs, and it doesn’t seem to be in the exalted space where Ferrari is, able to get by getting high on its own supply.
Anyway, according to Bloomberg, McLaren has turned the page:
McLaren Automotive Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Mike Flewitt will step down after eight years leading the closely held company, which has started a search for a successor.
The Woking, England-based supecar maker said Wednesday that Michael Macht, a McLaren Group non-executive director, will oversee technical and operational functions, while Chairman Paul Walsh will lead sales, marketing and public relations. Flewitt joined McLaren as chief operating officer in June 2012, and became CEO just over a year later.
The carmaker controlled by Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat has been repairing its finances after the pandemic halted production and scuppered the Formula 1 racing franchise. In July, McLaren raised 550 million pounds ($755 million) from existing investors and the sale of preference shares and equity warrants to new backers Ares Management Corp. and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. It also raised $620 million from a bond issue.
Bloomberg also says that McLaren is thinking about going public via SPAC, like so many others have done or considered, which feels like something you do when you don’t quite have the juice.
If you’re curious about what McLaren is doing with EVs, Flewitt had this to say about McLaren them earlier this month:
What about electric cars – will we see a McLaren EV?
“Yes, but not until the latter part of this decade. It’s hard to get the balance of power and range with performance cars. You could have an extremely fast EV, but it will have very little range – and it won’t offer enough engagement and excitement.
“Primarily, we make cars that are exciting, and performance is part of that. Yet a lot of that sensation also comes from the powertrain, and that’s missing with EVs.
“I think our GT product range will be first to go electric, then it will evolve into the supercars. We have a couple of development cars running around, and we’re working on chassis dynamics. We want to make an EV that’s as thrilling as the 765LT you’re driving today.”
I hope McLaren gets through this, because I don’t want to live in a world without McLaren. I’m guessing, sadly, that will require an SUV.