McLaren sells a record 4,806 cars –

2019-01-08
McLaren
McLaren fights assimilation, sells a record 4,806 cars — and exactly zero crossovers! — in 2018

The ‘let’s only build cool cars’ strategy seems to be paying off

Every time we go to test-drive a new McLaren (the things we do for you, the readers!), the Woking-based automaker likes to fill us in on how things are going with the business — it’s been better every year since McLaren Automotive launched in 2010 — and assure us it has no plans to build a crossover or SUV. Ever.

It started off as a bit of inside-baseball humor at press events, but lately it’s seemed like more of a manifesto — something that sets McLaren apart from everyone else. After all, everyone has already jumped into the crossover field, is preparing to jump in or is at least threatening to do so. Yes, even Ferrari! Nobody can seem to resist the cash grab that high-riding vehicles seems to represent … except McLaren.

So how’s that working out for the automaker?

Pretty well, as it turns out: In 2018, McLaren sold a record 4,806 cars, up an impressive 43.9 percent over the prior year. Further, 2018 saw the 5,000th McLaren sold in North America and the 15,000th car built at its Woking production center.

The company has achieved consistent, impressive growth, in terms of both the number of vehicles sold and the number of global markets in which those vehicles are offered, while sticking to what it set out to do: building cutting-edge, driver-focused road and track cars and making zero concessions to the supposed inevitability of the crossoverpocalypse.

Interestingly, McLaren has seen huge sales gains — 122.5 percent year-over-year — in China, a country we’re assured has scant interest in anything that doesn’t have a back seat. That amounts to under 350 cars sold there per year, but it’s notable.

Can McLaren hold the line? It is, as we said, still something of a boutique shop, and it’s easier to achieve big annual growth rates when you’re relatively small. Ferrari, for example, sells something like 80 percent more vehicles per year; to a more mature brand feeling the unceasing pressure of the endless growth-at-any-cost mentality, a surefire money- and sales-maker like a crossover must start feeling awfully tempting, no matter how unthinkable such a decision might have seemed in previous eras.

We do know that only building cool, no-compromise carbon-fiber wonders has worked well for McLaren so far. We hope they stick with it.