Page last updated at 09:32 GMT, Wednesday, 9 September 2009 10:32 UK

McLaren road car marks expansion

The BBC's Richard Scott takes an exclusive look at McLaren's new super sports car

Formula One racing group McLaren has unveiled a new road car that marks the creation of a new UK-based carmaker.

It plans to build the cars in a factory that it will build next to the group's headquarters in Woking.

Plans to rival the likes of Ferrari and Aston Martin are part of a strategy to grow the business outside racing, where cost cutting pressure is fierce.

The move could help cushion McLaren's racing staff from job losses if F1 budgets are cut.

New road car

"I am confident that now is the right time for McLaren Automotive," said chairman Ron Dennis.

By the time the 12C is launched in 2011, we expect the economic conditions to be much improved
Antony Sheriff, managing director, McLaren Automotive

McLaren last produced its own road car, the F1, in 1998. The company began production on the road car in 1994, which was for a time the fastest production car ever made. A variant won the Le Mans 24-hour race in 1995.

Since 2003, McLaren has been designing and manufacturing the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren line of sports cars with the German carmaker.

But the partnership has come to the end with the 75 cars that make up the total production of the 750,000-euro ($1m; £654,000) McLaren SLR Stirling Moss, which will be the last in the series.

'Much improved'

By the time the new factory has been built, McLaren hopes that the automotive division should employ 800 people and produce 4,000 cars per year.

However, managing director Antony Sheriff told BBC News that initially it would manufacture just 1,000 cars per year.

"By the time the 12C is launched in 2011, we expect the economic conditions to be much improved," he said.

The 12C will compete in the market for cars costing between £125,000 and £175,000.

Mark Fulthorpe at the auto consultancy CSM Worldwide said that sales overall in that part of the market had been reasonably resilient.

"Lambourghini, Bentley and Aston Martin have all seen sales down, but Ferrari's orders books are full for its new California," he said.

"It's a pretty tough market place, but McLaren's background in racing is a good starting point."

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