A Few Suggestions For The New McLaren CEO

McLaren Automotive’s new CEO, Michael Leiters, officially starts today (July 1).  Leiters most recently was Ferrari’s Chief Technology Officer for the last 7 years.  While at Ferrari, Leiters was heavily involved in the development and production of a range of models including the first hybrid V8 SF90 Stradale, first V6 hybrid 296 GTB, F8 Tributo and the soon to be launched Purosangue SUV.  Prior to Ferrari, Leiters worked at Porsche for 13 years and played a key role in the development of the massively successful Cayenne SUV.  The Cayenne basically saved Porsche from bankruptcy and is the core of Porsche’s business today.  Leiters has a doctorate in engineering from RWTH Aachen University in Germany. 


Given his background, Leiters’ is well equipped to tackle the multiple challenges McLaren is currently facing.  However, I thought it be helpful to draft a few suggestions.  First and foremost on my list, get the Artura launch right.  Second, refill the product pipeline.  For a company that used to be teased for pumping out new models and the same rapid pace as Boris Johnson’s scandals, it has been a bit of a Covid driven desert for the last couple of years (see: McLaren & Chasity).  Third, secure McLaren’s longer term financial footing.  Of the three, the last will probably be the most challenging as it involves getting the delicate balance right between volumes, costs, liquidity, and profitability.

The Artura

Starting with the Artura, it reminds me a bit of that horrible play, “Waiting for Godot”.  While there has been lots of talk, the real question is when will it ever arrive?  While McLaren was quite wise to delay the Artura until the car is completely ready, it has now been 16 months since the car was officially, and quite prematurely, launched.  In hindsight, McLaren would have been much better off delaying the announcement of the Artura until it was truly ready for primetime.  However, one positive coming out of that pre-mature launch decision in 2021 is Mr. Leiters now has a job in Woking.  Getting the Artura right is mission critical for McLaren and it is the one big chance to put the noise about quality and reliability well into the past.  Hence delaying the launch has been absolutely the right thing to do which raises the question on why McLaren went ahead with Artura media drives in Spain last month using pre-production cars that had a range of issues.  After being patient for so long, why rush the media drives now when final production cars will be available in a matter of months if not weeks?  From Autocar:


The experience left this tester convinced that the Artura will be a superb addition for McLaren, capable of converting people into electrified supercar ownership with a really light touch, and with a reassuring purity and familiarity about it – once it is finished. Once McLaren has completed its technical troubleshooting, made every system in the car work fully in tune with every other, proven every last corner of that powertrain, and ironed out every last software hiccup.


This is exactly the press McLaren doesn’t need as it just reinforces existing perceptions.  If I was Mr. Leiters, I would be having a rather pointed discussion with the executive responsible for the Spanish media drives on day 1.  What makes this even more troubling is the reports on the actual car are really great.  In his latest blog on Collecting Cars (Artura Press Drive) Chris Harris, who is one of the automotive media’s hardest graders, was highly complementary:


I do know that it’s a special machine, because I spent a day ragging one the week before that launch event. And it neither failed to work nor caught fire. In fact, I came away thinking it was a car I’d like to own. This is surprising, because one side effect of such a protracted gestation is that I normally lose interest in machines that seem to have been around for ages but still don’t officially ‘exist’, and low-slung stuff like this feels like a young man’s game now anyway. But the powertrain is so clever in the way it deploys the electricity, I love the almost-flat-six sound, and on the road the chassis is a blinder – even if it has lost some of that uncanny McLaren suppleness. As for the steering, it’s like tasting real, Mexican sugar Coca-Cola after a month of drinking the new healthy rubbish: a genuine ‘wow, this is how things used to be’ moment.


This is exactly the type of press McLaren needs on the Artura.  It is also very consistent with what I have heard from a number of other individuals who have driven the Artura. If it takes delaying deliveries on the Artura for another month or two to make sure it’s right, then that’s what needs to happen.  On the other hand, if there are still larger concerns on the Artura, Leiters needs to bring in whatever resources are needed to get it right asap as McLaren needs Arturas driving off of showroom floors in the very near future.

The Product Pipeline

McLaren’s currently product portfolio is getting long in the tooth.  The main supercar line, the 720S Coupe and Spider, is now 5 years old and will need an update soon.  McLaren has already pulled the trigger on the 7 series LT line so once 765LT Spider deliveries are completed in late 2022, that card has been played.  The same holds for the Hypercar line, once Elva deliveries are completed, no new model in that segment has been announced.  The only other car McLaren currently produces, the GT, hasn’t been in the market quite as long as the 720S, but as it’s basically a 570S dropped into a 720S tub, it is as equally dated as the cars on which it is based.


While getting the Artura out the door and following it up with a Spider version in 2023, will go a long way to creating needed excitement, the other areas of the portfolio do need addressing in the near term.  I would recommend rolling a facelifted 720S out in 2023.  This should not be hard to do.  Take the engine out of the 765LT, detune it slightly, incorporate a few of the new styling cues from the Artura on the front and rear ends, and badge it as a 750Z.  It will also allow you to do a final hard core track focused limited edition “R” series (780R) off the 750Z and bring in an additional 780 units.  Last but certainly not least for the 7 series platform is a limited run of 500-1,000 light weight manual final V8 twin turbo Barchettas.  While McLaren will have to detune the V8 TT engine down to around 630 bph to be able to mate it to a 6 speed manual gearbox, it should be able to save a few hundred pounds by eliminating the automatic convertible top and replacing it with a light weight carbon fiber removable panel while swapping out the active aero for a simple fixed rear wing.  If McLaren can pull off a 630MB, it might just be the most exciting car they build in this decade.  These suggestions are well within McLaren’s engineering expertise and should be quick to turn around.  Put together as a package, this should provide plenty of excitement to carry McLaren’s core supercar business nicely until a full 7 series replacement is ready in 2025/2026. 


On the Hypercar side of the business, announcing a P1 replacement in either late 2022 or early 2023 with deliveries starting in 2026 is really all that’s needed right now.  On the GT, I would let it quietly continue until orders dry up and not replace it.  I do have one additional ask here, I would actively seek feedback from your key customers.  Given the price point of the products you sell, in general McLaren’s customer base is going to be well educated, successful, and articulate.  In many cases they are also going to have extensive experience with many of McLaren’s key competitors’ products.  Hence their feedback should be quite insightful and can help shape the products developed for the future.  The last regime had a Putin like view on customer feedback.  I believe this was a big miss.

Financial Future

The CEO of McLaren’s main shareholder, Mumtalakat, Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund, announced last week that he expects the British racing team and supercar maker to go public in two to three years.  If McLaren is to pull off a successful IPO in this timeframe, it will need to have both rebuilt its product pipeline and increased annual production volumes to around 4,000 units per year.  The 4,000 units is my estimate on a health production number that does not strain capacity while providing adequate revenue to cover costs.  There is also the not insignificant issue of the roughly £900 million in product development cost still in need of amortization.  These will need to be written down substantially ahead of any IPO.  Given the market’s experience with the last British luxury car manufacturer to go public, a health balance sheet and an easily serviceable debt load are key.


In 2021, McLaren took aggressive steps to restore its balance sheet to health.  In August, McLaren Group raised $620 million at 7.5% of 5-yr Senior Secured Notes, opened a new revolving credit facility of £110 million, completed a £550 million equity raise, sold the McLaren Technology Center for £170 million (and then entered into a 20 year lease to remain on site), and spun off Applied Technologies for an undisclosed sum likely to have been in the £30 million range.  Proceeds from the note raise and the MTC sale have been used to retire the £630 million of long-term debt that was to come due in 2022. The new notes also better match McLaren’s debt to its revenue in terms of currency as the US now represents 45% of sales. 


While getting the balance sheet in order, has been critically important, as of Q1 2022, McLaren’s had total liquidity of £57.1 mil. which would indicate that a further cash raise to fund its next generation product pipeline is likely at some point in 2023.  For Leiters, it’s both critical that he is able to raise the cash, and critical that it is the last cash raise needed ahead of any IPO.


I’m very optimistic about the new Leiters regime.  While he definitely has his work cut out for him, coming out of both Porsche and Ferrari, Leiter has the background and experience needed to get McLaren back on its feet.  Getting the Artura launch right is mission critical.  If he can do this, refilling the product pipeline, securing McLaren’s financial future, and executing a successful IPO are all quite achievable.

Thoughts and comments? Please see the comments section below.

The sign up for new blog email notifications is at the bottom of the page.


Follow us on

Share Now


July 2022


Recent Posts

6 Thoughts on A Few Suggestions For The New McLaren CEO
    1 Jul 2022

    Any thoughts on infotainment? Getting Carplay and Android Auto onto current cars is an absolute must, and a ~$2k retrofit all the way back to the 12C would be a great (and needed) boost to residuals, get the cars and owners into the dealers and fit the ‘supercar you can live with’ ethos too.

    2 Jul 2022

    I wonder if the Altura launch in Spain was afflicted by the semiconductor shortages? That McLaren couldn’t get the new electronics to build out a run for the press cars and had to work with what they had? It seemed so close to being right yet missed because the cars just weren’t quite ready. That one reportedly went on fire didn’t help either…

    I believe it was Henry Catchpole on Carfection (great YouTube channel – everybody needs to visit) that essentially summed it up as not quite being finished and ready. Just missing that last part to make it truly great.

    McLaren are definitely being quiet on what products are going to follow up on the current line. I’m sure they are working in the background on them, and reducing the reliance upon specials is what has been asked of them before. I think it’s more a sign of McLaren doing what they’ve been criticised for not doing in the past! Dammed if they do, dammed if they don’t…

    You’re stating a production volume of about 4,000 a year. I’m sure the original targets were about 6,000 and with expectations to grow. I think they probably need that.

    GT car is a Frankenstein product. They’ve taken their mid-engine layout and chopped around with what they’ve got to make it kind of work as a GT. But it just never seemed like a genuine GT past anything else they offer. Like a car that’s also a boat – yes it can float, but you’re better off with a real boat…

    For the GT line McLaren would be better to move it to a front engine, rear drive model. This is really what should have been done for the GT back when it started. Now with electrification just around the corner it may be too late. Front engine is classic GT, offering plenty of luggage space, and in some cases you could expand it out to offer four / five seats.

    Why would a proper GT be so important?

    McLaren have done the mid-engine sports car as good as anybody. And with various entry points to the market that the only direction left is to compete with Lotus and entry level Porches. But if you look at Ferrari they offer a lot of GT products. 812, Roma, I’m going to say GT4 Lusso but it’s ended production as we wait the replacement. They’re more of a GT company. There must be opportunity for more GTs.

    And this is where I looked at the competition, and the vultures are circling Aston Martin! A GT company desperate to move in to the saturated mid-engined sports car arena, using a designer who’s designs have continued to fail. Even the Roma gets complimented as the best Aston Martin that Aston has never built. With Aston going down the plug hole with awful design, there is room for McLaren to move in with a sports GT. Do one that ticks the boxes as the Roma does and they’ll open up a completely new product line.

    It would be a departure from a pure racing car to one which is more of an armchair racer. You could see it as completing the circle with the F1 team’s racing cars and their fan’s armchair racers!

    It’s a market McLaren hasn’t yet tapped in to, and it’s just ripe with Aston Martin desperate to continue with the insanity of using the same designer that delivers duffs every time. Aston’s GT market is there for the taking.

    5 Jul 2022

    Unfortunately I agree with John about Aston Martin: the GT market should be theirs but Mr Stroll’s vanity is driving them into the most competitive supercar sector. A sector in which they don’t have the resources to compete. Aston’s brand values are GT. James Bond liked big GT cars.

    Re the new CEO; that’s a very different job to CTO. Not many can be brilliant at both.

    Bob Palcher
    6 Jul 2022

    “I would actively seek feedback from your key customers. Given the price point of the products you sell, in general McLaren’s customer base is going to be well educated, successful, and articulate. In many cases they are also going to have extensive experience with many of McLaren’s key competitors’ products. Hence their feedback should be quite insightful and can help shape the products developed for the future. The last regime had a Putin like view on customer feedback. I believe this was a big miss”.

    I could not agree more! In my opinion the new CEO should make changing the culture a high priority. It starts with improving delivery quality, treating the dealer network like partners and supporting them to deliver a world class experience. Generally the historical aftersales customer experiences are not customer centric and have hurt the brand reputation, growth potential, finances and customer retention. We all know of extinct companies that were once leaders in their industry, but they forgot about the customer.


Leave A Comment