McLaren exploring an SUV

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McLaren as recently as 2019 was adamant that it would never launch an SUV at its road car division, but it seems the success rivals like Aston Martin and Lamborghini are enjoying with their own high-riding models is simply too hard to ignore. In the case of those rivals, a single SUV now accounts for around 50% of sales.

While there have been rumors of McLaren planning an SUV for launch later this decade, one powered by electricity, a senior executive at the company has now confirmed that an SUV is being considered.

In an interview with Automotive News (subscription required) published on Sunday, Jamie Corstorphine, McLaren’s director of product strategy, said an SUV was in the early exploration phase but that the production go ahead is yet to be decided.

“The most important thing is to provide a (vehicle) that has more space or ability for a McLaren customer to share the experience with more people,” Corstorphine said. “How high-riding it is, whether it’s a crossover…that’s to be decided and in fact, nothing is set at this point.”

McLaren finally warming up to the idea of an SUV in its lineup isn’t surprising given the company’s financial woes resulting from the pandemic-related slowdown of the past two years, and more recently delays in development of the new Artura plug-in hybrid supercar, which the company partially funded by selling off cars from its heritage collection.

McLaren will also need more funding to invest in electrification as its U.K. home market and the E.U. both make moves to totally ban gas and diesel engines by 2035, with more countries likely to follow.

McLaren’s decision to start racing this year in the Extreme E electric off-road series could also be construed as a need to build credibility in the world of high-performance electric SUVs ahead of introducing one to showrooms.

Don’t expect McLaren to offer a big and rugged SUV like the Porsche Cayenne, though. Instead, any McLaren SUV will likely be a relatively low and compact model like Ferrari’s new Purosangue SUV.

With its new CEO, McLaren’s road car division is well poised to launch an SUV. The company in April named Michael Leiters as CEO, replacing Mike Flewitt. Leiters previously served as Ferrari’s chief technology officer, where he helped develop the Purosangue. He also previously worked at Porsche, where he helped develop multiple generations of the Cayenne.

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