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I think we are talking about the same thing, there is the "right market" for McLaren. A large partner would certainly help (synergy in development, production, purchasing, sales, etc.), but I think it can work without one. When I look at McLaren's intelligent modular system, I find something special that neither Ferrari nor Lamborghini nor Porsche have. Advantage: every McLaren is essentially the same (synergies), disadvantage: every McLaren is essentially the same (canibalism within the own product lines). The question now is: how far can I push the two-seater/mid-rear engine concept based on the carbon tub technology and the always (more or less) same drives? All of McLaren's competitors serve the same target markets with products with significantly more differentiation and logically much higher development and production costs. Sometimes I wonder where all the money goes at McLaren...
 

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Carbon fiber ….
Hopefully as EV’s become more weight sensitive and carbon fiber becomes less costly to produce and manufacture with, McLaren’s knowledge and experience will increase the value of the company.
That would be great. My uneducated guess is that the world's engineers are already pretty far down that learning curve, so unless McLaren have some especially valuable patents (as Rimac did for electrification), I'm not sure how much it would add to the McLaren's attractiveness.
 

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That would be great. My uneducated guess is that the world's engineers are already pretty far down that learning curve, so unless McLaren have some especially valuable patents (as Rimac did for electrification), I'm not sure how much it would add to the McLaren's attractiveness.
I believe ATR/Mubea Carbotech own the patents regarding the production process and Mclaren is just licensing the tech. Regarding eMcL's point regarding cost, I'm really not sure how much more expensive a carbon chassis is compared to a conventional aluminum chassis. Alfa was able to sell the 4c for $60k they were using a far more laborious process than Mclaren. In comparison to aluminum, carbon is actually far more flexible (product wise) with a low volume sportscar. With aluminum you have huge costs of tooling that must be amortized across multiple generations of vehicles whereas with carbon offers far lest risk as you only need some molds. So while carbon's material cost may be more, once all manufacturing costs are accounted for the delta in price is probably far lower than most people think. For a new company without any established production centers or machinery carbon was probably the superior option strategy wise.
 

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I believe ATR/Mubea Carbotech own the patents regarding the production process and Mclaren is just licensing the tech. Regarding eMcL's point regarding cost, I'm really not sure how much more expensive a carbon chassis is compared to a conventional aluminum chassis. Alfa was able to sell the 4c for $60k they were using a far more laborious process than Mclaren. In comparison to aluminum, carbon is actually far more flexible (product wise) with a low volume sportscar. With aluminum you have huge costs of tooling that must be amortized across multiple generations of vehicles whereas with carbon offers far lest risk as you only need some molds. So while carbon's material cost may be more, once all manufacturing costs are accounted for the delta in price is probably far lower than most people think. For a new company without any established production centers or machinery carbon was probably the superior option strategy wise.
Yes perhaps carbon flexibility is ‘superior’ for a start up sports car company to develop a business, but that comes with the expenses of intensive labor and time consuming manufacturing in the production of the carbon fiber parts. As you said stamping aluminum is cheaper with volume, otherwise all cars would be manufactured using carbon fiber. Having volume production cars in your portfolio is critical for a car company’s financial position and growth. In addition the purchasing power of low production volume car companies is poor and that makes component parts more costly from suppliers (no leverage). This combination, leaving aside dealership servicing issues, are the reason that most car company start ups fail - ie low volume drives higher costs. The double whammy of EV regulation and pandemic is breaking McLaren financially and makes the transition to higher volume production and increasing brand value difficult. Hence the discussion on how or who to partner with, be acquired by etc ….?

Hopefully the Artura will be a great success and increase the value of McLaren. :)

Given that McLaren appears to be a big user of carbon fiber in their cars my assumption is that they would hold many production related patents. Not production of carbon fiber but car production related patents of products that are made out of carbon fiber.

 

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The extensiv usage of carbon fiber and the carbon tube in particular make the differences, are responsible for the main part of McLarens uniqueness. Probably an aluminum chassis will be cheaper to produce, but then the unique McLaren DNA is destroyed.

I dare say that McLaren's market entry would never have been so successful without the carbon tube. It’s their primary unique selling proposition.
 

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I believe ATR/Mubea Carbotech own the patents regarding the production process and Mclaren is just licensing the tech. Regarding eMcL's point regarding cost, I'm really not sure how much more expensive a carbon chassis is compared to a conventional aluminum chassis. Alfa was able to sell the 4c for $60k they were using a far more laborious process than Mclaren. In comparison to aluminum, carbon is actually far more flexible (product wise) with a low volume sportscar. With aluminum you have huge costs of tooling that must be amortized across multiple generations of vehicles whereas with carbon offers far lest risk as you only need some molds. So while carbon's material cost may be more, once all manufacturing costs are accounted for the delta in price is probably far lower than most people think. For a new company without any established production centers or machinery carbon was probably the superior option strategy wise.
Ferrari are still using pre-WW2 technology for their metal chassis, and I have to believe that the reason is money, not nostalgia!
 

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The extensiv usage of carbon fiber and the carbon tube in particular make the differences, are responsible for the main part of McLarens uniqueness. Probably an aluminum chassis will be cheaper to produce, but then the unique McLaren DNA is destroyed.

I dare say that McLaren's market entry would never have been so successful without the carbon tube. It’s their primary unique selling proposition.
I am not in anyway advocating a change to Aluminum for McLaren. Just pointing out that carbon is expensive because it doesn’t lend itself to mass production. If McLaren can solve that problem then they will be winners ……
 

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Yes perhaps carbon flexibility is ‘superior’ for a start up sports car company to develop a business, but that comes with the expenses of intensive labor and time consuming manufacturing in the production of the carbon fiber parts. As you said stamping aluminum is cheaper with volume, otherwise all cars would be manufactured using carbon fiber. Having volume production cars in your portfolio is critical for a car company’s financial position and growth. In addition the purchasing power of low production volume car companies is poor and that makes component parts more costly from suppliers (no leverage). This combination, leaving aside dealership servicing issues, are the reason that most car company start ups fail - ie low volume drives higher costs. The double whammy of EV regulation and pandemic is breaking McLaren financially and makes the transition to higher volume production and increasing brand value difficult. Hence the discussion on how or who to partner with, be acquired by etc ….?

Hopefully the Artura will be a great success and increase the value of McLaren. :)

Given that McLaren appears to be a big user of carbon fiber in their cars my assumption is that they would hold many production related patents. Not production of carbon fiber but car production related patents of products that are made out of carbon fiber.

I recall that it took 4000 hours to produce the F1's chassis, the SLR 1300 hours, and the current Monocell platform 4 hours. This massive decrease in production time is due to the process developed by ATR and later on Mclaren where instead of laying up prepreg by hand with multiple cure cycles, the chassis is made in a oneshot resin infusion process.
I was actually incorrect in my previous comment, it seems that Mclaren does own the technology themselves and have only outsourced the production to Mubea Carbotech, however the technology is already a generation old. There are even more efficient methods of production used by BMW and Nissan which incorporate increased pressure to speed up cycle times beyond traditional resin transfer molding. I read somewhere that the BMW i8 chassis only takes 15 minutes to make.
As to your point regarding if Mclaren can survive on their own. I doubt it. Like you said there are just too many challenges Mclaren faces. BMW would be an interesting partner given their experiments with carbon fiber, although I heard that they abandoned the idea after the failure of their iSeries. Mercedes with their F1 collaboration is another but they are already invested in Aston Martin. I would like to see what a Chinese company could bring to the table in regards to bringing down costs and electrification but I think most of the independent companies like Geely are invested elsewhere.
Ferrari are still using pre-WW2 technology for their metal chassis, and I have to believe that the reason is money, not nostalgia!
I would imagine that it is because their production line is already paid off and their labor force is already trained. To me Ferrari is a company that values the stability in a proven process over the uncertainty developing a high risk concept just for marginal improvements in marketability. As proof to their low risk nature, Ferrari was actually considering the Monocell concept as well before pulling out when ATR went bankrupt, as opposed to Mclaren's decision to go ahead and finish the development of the concept. I think the question is what Ferrari would choose were they to start from scratch.
 

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i bloody wish it ended up in a scrap heap. 106 cars is supposed to mean 106 cars not 106 cars and 25 prototypes...
I agree. They totally undermine the 106 number with all these extra XP cars. I”m not aware of another manufacturer doing this, and certainly not publicizing it if they do, but McLaren has been doing it for years. Next limited car please just tell us the REAL number of cars you’re going to sell and we can say ours is 1 of 122 or 126 or whatever the REAL number is instead of making your customers into liars on your behalf. 118, 124 or even 132 is still super rare. Even if you’re not sure at the outset, please tell us the final, number in the end. When I’ve been asked I tell people they probably made roughly 120 of these in total. It is frustrating when you own a rare car like this to not have an accurate number.

But I LOVE the car. Also to contrast Mikey’s comment: we’ve had 2 570 models and 2 720 models and put LOTS of miles of each of those cars and they’ve all been perfect. Speedtail has also been trouble free except for the latch to one of the little storage flaps under the dash which I broke by pushing it too hard but it was way too flimsy to begin with. It was a $3 part that should have been more sturdy. They just sent me the latch and we replaced it ourselves.

Now about the Speedtail driving experience…

I’ve now driven over 540 miles in my Speedtail. This week I took it for a 2.5 hour (well over 100 miles) drive and it was absolutely glorious. At one point I thought to myself “I wonder what other drivers think when they see this car go by?” It’s likely that very, very few who see the car go by in my area have ever even seen one before or even know what it is.

Another thing that occurred to me after the first hour in the car was how comfortable the car is (with just a driver and no passengers) for longer drives like that. I could easily have driven another hour or two, stopped for fuel, and then driven some more. My goal, once I realized I was 20 miles away from it, was to hit 500 miles on the odometer, but once I did I still didn’t want to stop and drove another 40+ miles before getting home. I wouldn’t want to sit in one of the passenger seats for a multi hour drive but I’d be totally OK driving - especially if it involved some nice twisty mountain roads which are only about 3 hours from from my house so a weekend trip to the mountains is definitely in the works now.

It’s super comfortable, the steering and power are just incredible, it feels amazing in the twisties and just eats up the straights. The interior feels luxurious, without being over-done, and the stereo is superb. Forward visibility, because you sit in the center, is amazing. Big accelerations in the. Speedtail are just insanely fun too - like a bigger, more civilized, version of the P1. It is nowhere near as loud as the P1 inside but you do still get some great engine sounds in the cockpit when you press down hard on the accelerator. The Speedtail has this beautiful gliding sensation, like no other far I’ve driven, but when you tell it you want to be more sporty, it comes alive and you’re instantly dealing with huge, but very controllable, accelerations. Sometime when I’m driving my Taycan I’ll do an insane acceleration from a stop sign just because I can and it’s so effortless and break-taking - the same goes for the Speedtail but with the Speedtail you get a concert of engine and induction and turbo and electric noises and it is all so glorious!

Also despite all the glass around you it’s actually one of my favorite cars to drive when it’s too hot outside for a top-down car. The excellent AC in the Speedtail keeps the cabin very comfortable and you can darken the upper windows enough to keep the sun at bay while still feeling a sense of openness. Far better than the P1 or Senna in that respect but also better than many regular cars. On the hottest days of the year, even with all the glass (electrochromic) roof panels, you can still, and very quickly, make the cabin much colder than you’d need it to be to be comfortable. The one time I needed it in the past the heat also was perfect. I believe the “feels like” temperature when I did my 100+ miles this week was over 100 degrees for most of the drive and it was never anything but cool and comfortable inside the cabin with a dual symphony of the excellent B&W stereo when I wasn’t pushing hard and the equally excellent McLaren Speedtail engine when I was. Oh, and one Bluetooth phone call came in during the drive that also worked perfectly too. As it does sometimes on these super hot days, it rained decently hard for about 15 minutes of the drive, and that didn’t phase the car either.

I just love this car!!

My only beef with the Speedtail is there’s no rear view display. You have view the rear view camera on the dash at speeds up to 19 mph but then it goes away. I’m confident they will fix that in a future update.
 

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I agree. They totally undermine the 106 number with all these extra XP cars. I”m not aware of another manufacturer doing this, and certainly not publicizing it if they do, but McLaren has been doing it for years. Next limited car please just tell us the REAL number of cars you’re going to sell and we can say ours is 1 of 122 or 126 or whatever the REAL number is instead of making your customers into liars on your behalf. 118, 124 or even 132 is still super rare. Even if you’re not sure at the outset, please tell us the final, number in the end. When I’ve been asked I tell people they probably made roughly 120 of these in total. It is frustrating when you own a rare car like this to not have an accurate number.

But I LOVE the car. Also to contrast Mikey’s comment: we’ve had 2 570 models and 2 720 models and put LOTS of miles of each of those cars and they’ve all been perfect. Speedtail has also been trouble free except for the latch to one of the little storage flaps under the dash which I broke by pushing it too hard but it was way too flimsy to begin with. It was a $3 part that should have been more sturdy. They just sent me the latch and we replaced it ourselves.

Now about the Speedtail driving experience…

I’ve now driven over 540 miles in my Speedtail. This week I took it for a 2.5 hour (well over 100 miles) drive and it was absolutely glorious. At one point I thought to myself “I wonder what other drivers think when they see this car go by?” It’s likely that very, very few who see the car go by in my area have ever even seen one before or even know what it is.

Another thing that occurred to me after the first hour in the car was how comfortable the car is (with just a driver and no passengers) for longer drives like that. I could easily have driven another hour or two, stopped for fuel, and then driven some more. My goal, once I realized I was 20 miles away from it, was to hit 500 miles on the odometer, but once I did I still didn’t want to stop and drove another 40+ miles before getting home. I wouldn’t want to sit in one of the passenger seats for a multi hour drive but I’d be totally OK driving - especially if it involved some nice twisty mountain roads which are only about 3 hours from from my house so a weekend trip to the mountains is definitely in the works now.

It’s super comfortable, the steering and power are just incredible, it feels amazing in the twisties and just eats up the straights. The interior feels luxurious, without being over-done, and the stereo is superb. Forward visibility, because you sit in the center, is amazing. Big accelerations in the. Speedtail are just insanely fun too - like a bigger, more civilized, version of the P1. It is nowhere near as loud as the P1 inside but you do still get some great engine sounds in the cockpit when you press down hard on the accelerator. The Speedtail has this beautiful gliding sensation, like no other far I’ve driven, but when you tell it you want to be more sporty, it comes alive and you’re instantly dealing with huge, but very controllable, accelerations. Sometime when I’m driving my Taycan I’ll do an insane acceleration from a stop sign just because I can and it’s so effortless and break-taking - the same goes for the Speedtail but with the Speedtail you get a concert of engine and induction and turbo and electric noises and it is all so glorious!

Also despite all the glass around you it’s actually one of my favorite cars to drive when it’s too hot outside for a top-down car. The excellent AC in the Speedtail keeps the cabin very comfortable and you can darken the upper windows enough to keep the sun at bay while still feeling a sense of openness. Far better than the P1 or Senna in that respect but also better than many regular cars. On the hottest days of the year, even with all the glass (electrochromic) roof panels, you can still, and very quickly, make the cabin much colder than you’d need it to be to be comfortable. The one time I needed it in the past the heat also was perfect. I believe the “feels like” temperature when I did my 100+ miles this week was over 100 degrees for most of the drive and it was never anything but cool and comfortable inside the cabin with a dual symphony of the excellent B&W stereo when I wasn’t pushing hard and the equally excellent McLaren Speedtail engine when I was. Oh, and one Bluetooth phone call came in during the drive that also worked perfectly too. As it does sometimes on these super hot days, it rained decently hard for about 15 minutes of the drive, and that didn’t phase the car either.

I just love this car!!

My only beef with the Speedtail is there’s no rear view display. You have view the rear view camera on the dash at speeds up to 19 mph but then it goes away. I’m confident they will fix that in a future update.
great review, glad you like it. they did promise a rear view display update a year ago.... also there is no radio in the car
 
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