Q: Electric Vehicles (EVs) are the hot topic now. Are you planning an immediate transition to EV?
I think you have seen our plan. The car launched in India today (Friday), the new McLaren Artura, is a hybrid with electric capability. It is not a mild hybrid as it has an engine and is also a full plug-in. So, there’s the ability to switch between powertrains. For McLaren, this is perhaps a very important step towards electrification. Even when we engineered, we engineered it specifically and we have this philosophy that everything is there for a reason.
In this particular case, hybridization was developed in a way that actually improved the performance parameters of the car. It gives an ability when you come home late at night, or leave early in the morning, a non-annoying ability. If you choose, you can drive in electric mode in every traffic situation. The challenge of Russell’s battery with an electric motor coupled with a snow blower is difficult to achieve the right weight. Various attempts were made to reduce some of the weight and compromises that came with the new technology. So from a pure electrification point of view, the mild potential is difficult to acquire McLaren. Because the technology, especially for batteries, is not yet available. So, when technology advances a few more steps to make them lighter, I guess we’ll see what we’re capable of.Q: Do you think the sports car fan base will shrink in the near future as their manufacturers shift to electric vehicles?
I don’t think that will happen. I don’t think it’s a yes or a no. I guess it’s a bit of an unknown now. You have to remember that generationally, people are growing and developing over time. So, if I had to impose this on my generation, if they don’t, if I were to ask my children the same question, all I think is love for beauty. There is love for form and there is love for shape and movement. But I think there is love for engagement too. You get a lot for IC engines I guess. Whether or not that can be replicated in Electrify, I don’t know, I think our tour is probably the right mix between the two.
Q: What are the major challenges you are currently facing in the Indian market?
At the moment, I would say that we’re very pleased with the progress, to be honest, with exceptionally strong business partners. I’m not saying that just because they’re sitting next to me, I’m actually saying that. They’re really excellent at understanding what a brand is and understanding how to support the brand and the customers locally. I think our biggest challenge will be how do we get more people to experience McLaren faster. I think, once you experience it, nothing like it happens. This in itself is very powerful. So I think connecting with all those people to give them an experience that they deserve is probably our biggest challenge right now. It will come when we get a better developed infrastructure which is slowly coming. Probably some more racing tracks in the country would also be very useful.
Q: Are McLaren’s plans to enter the high-performance SUV market appealing to competitors?
I think if I can recall what our CEO, Michael Leiter, said, the challenge for McLaren will always be how does it fit with the core DNA of the product, and you know, the lightweight sports car. But I think we cannot ignore the fact that it (SUV) is a huge growing segment. I think this is something Michael openly admits: He’s a fan of SUVs. It is a segment that is of interest but not in the near or medium term.
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