McLaren CEO: I promise we will never, ever make an SUV
The debate surrounding SUVs and their place in the automotive world has been fiercely fought on social media, various car chatrooms and, of course, here on DriveTribe for as long as anyone can remember now. The souls of car brands are at stake as business-minded types go head-to-head with motoring purists.
A particularly excellent piece was written on this topic by DriveTribe's own Darren Cassey, which you can read here. In it, he argues SUVs are a necessary evil, as they provide the mass sales and flowing revenue that allow for the sustenance of the more prized models, which are usually not as cost-effective on their own.
Darren makes the point very well, contending that purists' fear that SUVs 'dilute' car brands is misplaced. It seems that many carmakers share his point of view, especially in the supercar realm; Porsche have made the Macan, Lamborghini have produced the Urus and there are even rumblings of a possible Ferrari super-SUV.
Recently, though, a dissenting voice arose. And not an insignificant one. In an interview with TopGear.com, McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt slammed his competitors for churning out SUVs and pledged that there will never be a bulky canine-carrier with a McLaren badge on it.
Flewitt does not mince his words. "There's more than enough SUVs in the world and we don't need another one," he says. "Effectively when we look at products – and we’re always looking at product concepts – is that there are three measures. One is around the brand, one is around the technology and the other is around the financials.
"So, the brand: an SUV is only going to dilute the McLaren brand. Our brand and heritage is motorsport and great drivers’ cars. SUVs are great, they have their place, but they’re not great drivers’ cars. They utterly dilute the driving experience so it makes no sense."
Flewitt makes it clear that he doesn't have anything against SUVs on a personal level, but that he simply doesn't see them fitting in with the McLaren brand. "Nothing wrong with them," he says, "but we don’t have a technology set that suits an SUV, so we’d be starting from scratch.
"And we’re not arrogant to think we can go up against the Range Rovers and Cayennes of this world with a better can than them overnight," he continues. As well as practical and branding issues, Flewitt doesn't believe entering the SUV market would benefit McLaren financially either.
"We don’t have the technology and we’re not going to be first in the market, so what’s the point? You have to invest from scratch and we wouldn’t make any money out of it. After all that, why the hell would we do this?"
Flewitt clearly has McLaren drivers and their wishes very high up on his list of priorities. "The customers love what we do," he says. So, don't expect to be able to shove your enormous black Labrador in the back of a McLaren any time soon.