McLaren MP4-12C launched: The company
Ron Dennis, who for years was seen on television masterminding McLaren's Formula One team from the pit wall of circuits around the world, now heads McLaren Automotive, with Antony Sheriff, formerly of Fiat, as his managing director.
They are establishing a new production facility at Woking, next to the technology centre that engineers and develops the team's Formula One cars.
The plan is to start by building the MP4-12C at the rate of 1000 a year and to expand to a four-car range producing 4000 a year. Two of those additional cars are already in development.
'We are looking at everything diverse styles, packaging solutions and drivetrains,' says Dennis. 'But given the nature of the business we are involved in, I think it would be fair to say that the cars we produce will all have two seats and the engine in the back.'
More photos of the McLaren MP4-12C
> McLaren MP4-12C picture 1
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> McLaren MP4-12C picture 5
> McLaren MP4-12C picture 6McLaren's aim is not to be the world's biggest sports-car manufacturer, but to be the best. 'Developing cars that are as good as our competitors is not good enough,' says Sheriff. 'We want to push technology to the edge of the edge of what's possible.'
Every single component of the MP4-12C is unique to McLaren. Even the most minor switch is designed and built to the company's specification.
The simulator that Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton use to perfect their Formula One cars has also been used to hone the MP4-12C.
'It's widely acknowledged as being the best in the world,' says Martin Whitmarsh, the Formula One team principal. 'To use something like this for road-car development is unheard of, but it meant that the performance of our first prototype right out of the box was fantastic.'