McLaren as recently as 2019 was adamant 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 50% of sales.
Autocar reported on Wednesday that McLaren is working on an SUV for launch in the second half of the decade, one powered by electricity.
The move isn’t surprising given McLaren’s financial woes resulting from the pandemic-related slowdown of the past two years, coupled with the need to invest electrification as the U.K. and now also the E.U. makes moves to ban internal-combustion engines by 2035.
It was also financial difficulty that originally spurred Porsche to launch the Cayenne two decades ago. And even the new car company of McLaren F1 designer Gordon Murray is working on an electric SUV.
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 Cayenne, though. Instead, Autocar posits that McLaren’s SUV will be a relatively low and compact model like Ferrari’s Purosangue SUV due out later this year.
With its new CEO, McLaren’s road car division is in a good position to launch an SUV. The company in April named Michael Leiters as CEO, replacing Mike Flewitt. He 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.