x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

UAE front of the grid for McLaren

A need for speed and a hefty disposable income among UAE car enthusiasts have helped the country become the second biggest market for McLaren Automotives, the high-performance sports car maker.

McLaren shipped about 10 per cent of the 1,500 cars it manufactured last year to the Middle East. Sarah Dea / The National
McLaren shipped about 10 per cent of the 1,500 cars it manufactured last year to the Middle East. Sarah Dea / The National

A need for speed and a hefty disposable income among UAE car enthusiasts have helped the country become the second-biggest market for McLaren Automotives, the high-performance sports car maker.

The UK-based company sold about 150 of its cars in the region last year, with a significant number of those rolling out of showrooms in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

It means the UAE is second only to London in the ranks of biggest-selling markets. As a brand familiar to fans of Formula One, a sizeable chunk of the sales to date have been driven by followers of the sport, said Mark Harrison, the regional Middle East and Africa director of McLaren. But he said the brand was also starting to gain recognition in the region among non-sports car racing enthusiasts.

"We have hit a sweet spot where there's just enough on the road to be seen for people to know it's a McLaren and be interested enough to follow it up, but not so many for people to think they're 10 a penny," he said.

McLaren launched its first high-performance sports car in the region in November 2011 and has been focusing on expanding its retail presence ever since. In addition to existing showrooms in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, it opened one in Manama, Bahrain, last month to tie in with the country's grand prix. It has also opened a showroom in Doha and plans to open in Riyadh soon.

About 10 per cent of the 1,500 cars made in McLaren's factory in Woking are shipped to the Middle East for sale. It means the cars are far less common on roads than some of its rivals Ferrari or Aston Martin.

"We build fewer cars than our competitors so it builds demand," said Mr Harrison.

Prices of McLaren's cars range from the 12C Coupé, which sells for Dh1 million to the P1, which will retail at Dh4.5m when it hits showrooms at the end of the year.

McLaren is developing a car at a lower price point due for completion from 2015, called the P13.

"The price is between £150,000 [Dh857,856] and £200,000," said Mr Harrison. "So it's the Aston Martin and Porsche 911 market. But we'll keep the number of cars we're building quite low to keep exclusivity."

 

tarnold@thenational.ae