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I visited the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking on Wednesday morning to see the assembly line and the P1. Luckily, the timing was good, as I saw the first customer cars coming off of the newly-opened P1 line. I also followed a prototype P1 from a Woking road into the MTC, and witnessed some final prepping of a P1 as it drove around the factory floor. Finally, saw an F1 GTR, which was pretty sweet.

Biggest takeaways for me:
  1. It's interesting how the philosophy of manufacturing, in a company, can imbue its entire facilities design. Almost all of the assembly areas in MTC have shiny, white-tiled floors. Impeccably clean. Felt like science fiction throughout. Like the end of 2001: Space Odyssey.
  2. They put their designers directly on the floor above the engineers that assemble the designed parts. This makes for tighter feedback loops.
  3. The production values behind "revealing" the P1 were quite high. I guess at some level it all makes sense. But I nearly laughed out loud when the thumping techno music video ended with the P1 being revealed from behind an automated, sliding wall.

About the P1 itself:
  1. It's more beautiful in person than in photos, IMO.
  2. It's smaller than I thought.
  3. It's fascinating the types of things that are possible when money is less of an object, from a design-freedom perspective. For instance, the number of individual curves on the car are extraordinary compared to any mass-produced car simply because of the processes they can afford to use (e.g. hand-laid carbon weave instead of stamped metal). Or the titanium hood and exhaust pieces for maximum heat resistance. (Even the Diablo I owned had a hood-warpage problem due to engine/exhaust heat).
  4. The amount of carbon fiber used is nuts.
  5. The sunroof/skylight is nice. Tiny feature in a such a car, but nice.
  6. The rear carbon fiber diffuser is going to be impossible to keep chip-free. The Diablo's rear was hard enough to keep nice, even though it sloped quickly up away from the rear tires. But the P1's are basically going to be chipped to nastiness pretty quickly if you drive the car much at all -- it's too low, perhaps just a mere two inches from the rear tire. It's the type of thing that shows well, I'm sure, if you're a collector; but my Diablo was a DD, and let me tell you, the rear of the P1 will likely look pretty nastily worn within months of ownership.

Overall, interestingly, I was more impressed by the MTC itself than by the P1 in person. I'm sure it'll be a great car, but I'm not at all sold that it'll be $1.3M great. Perhaps that last sentence will be fairly useless for those of you for whom money is no concern. But IMO, I'd likely rather enjoy a 458 at a quarter the price.

I'm keeping my deposit alive, but am on the fence.
 

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[*]It's fascinating the types of things that are possible when money is less of an object, from a design-freedom perspective. For instance, the number of individual curves on the car are extraordinary compared to any mass-produced car simply because of the processes they can afford to use (e.g. hand-laid carbon weave instead of stamped metal).
I've question this. Why couldn't they create similar shaped pieces on a mass produced car less labor intensive techniques? Surely they can create models to create complex shapes by machine.



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I've question this. Why couldn't they create similar shaped pieces on a mass produced car less labor intensive techniques? Surely they can create models to create complex shapes by machine.
There are, a lot of modern cars have flared details and body creases if you looked closely, where as McLaren's form is said to equal function hence its designed the way it is, inspired by nature. Mainstream cars don't need to go that fast, they're not all about speed and performance, so they don't need to waste money making it look like something its not.

Also, I think you are confused with money is no object thing either. Companies have different market audiences to make profit not everyone can afford to buy an exclusive gem like P1. VW for example, they made the Veyron at a loss of profit at the time, because they can, and they've also spent a heft amount on their XL-1 concept.
 

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There are, a lot of modern cars have flared details and body creases if you looked closely, where as McLaren's form is said to equal function hence its designed the way it is, inspired by nature. Mainstream cars don't need to go that fast, they're not all about speed and performance, so they don't need to waste money making it look like something its not.

Also, I think you are confused with money is no object thing either. Companies have different market audiences to make profit not everyone can afford to buy an exclusive gem like P1. VW for example, they made the Veyron at a loss of profit at the time, because they can, and they've also spent a heft amount on their XL-1 concept.
I'm not really sure what you're getting at.

I'm saying that I don't think the selling price of the car is really tied to the manufacturing cost of the design, but rather the design is tied to the selling price. They could sell a car that looks like this for $1M or $400K probably. I don't think the shape of the P1 is really that much more expensive from a manufacturing stand point if you plan on high production. Yeah, there are some more complex curves and features, but I'm sure the 12C could have looked like this if they wanted it to and not cost that much more.

Aside from the difference in material cost when using entirely CF, I think the 12C and P1 look how they do because of how much they will sell for. If the 12C had a P1 body and cost $300K, I can't even imagine what the P1 would have to look like in order to express its superiority and make it special enough to demand the price. In other words, a P1 would not sell well if it looked like a 12C, even if it had all the P1 performance. Don't get me wrong, the 12C is a very nice car, but it's just not extreme looking enough no matter what is under the skin.

A lot of car purchases are based on looks. If you closed the gap between the two, and there is a gap the size of the Grand Canyon as I see it, it would make the P1 less special. If they had no intention of making a P1, the 12C could have looked like that imo.

I could be entirely wrong here, but I have to believe that manufacturing is advanced enough to turn out such a design with a not so outrageous cost, assuming you aren't making it entirely out of CF or something expensive like that.



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If they had no intention of making a P1, the 12C could have looked like that imo.
dvanced enough to turn out such a design with a not so outrageous cost, assuming you aren't making it entirely out of CF or something expensive like that.
Prior to Mclaren's new secret cast-like press of carbon fiber molding, I would have disagreed as the old weave technique was so time/labor intensive.

It's not clear how flexible the new process is, and if they use the technique for aesthetic pieces. If you look at the raw monocell, it's not very pretty. It doesn't need to be, but it looks like layers and layers of CF (almost plaster like) cast sheets pressed together. The trim pieces have that nice weave appearance, which is very different. I'm not sure how the trim pieces are being made. If they have managed to do it with the new press process, then you may be on point. If the aesthetic trim pieces still require the old weave process, then I'm not sure you can keep the costs down.
 

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Yeah, but the 12C wouldn't have a CF body.
Undrestood. I'm responding to your comments on the cost of making curvy/carbon fiber parts like on the P1 not really costing more. The point is they do have a lower cost method for the monocell, but I'm not sure they have a cheaper process for the aesthetic weave pieces that make up the P1 body.
 

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7000-8000$

Undrestood. I'm responding to your comments on the cost of making curvy/carbon fiber parts like on the P1 not really costing more. The point is they do have a lower cost method for the monocell, but I'm not sure they have a cheaper process for the aesthetic weave pieces that make up the P1 body.
The P13,s CF chassi is projected to cost 7000-8000$. Today the cost is about 9500$ for the P11 chassi.
 
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