McLaren could lean on BMW to enter the SUV segment

McLaren’s on-again, off-again SUV is happening. It’s referred to as a “shared performance vehicle” internally, and the sharing might not be limited to the cabin. McLaren confirmed it’s open to collaborating with another brand, such as BMW, to plant its stake in the SUV segment.

The project remains at the embryonic stage of development, and it sounds like not much is set in stone at this point. Piers Scott, the head of global communications for McLaren’s automotive division, told website CarScoops that executives are still “exploring a wide variety of different options” for the car. One of the questions that haven’t been answered yet is the body style: it could have either two or four doors.

McLaren CEO Michael Leiters previously indicated that his team could join forces with another carmaker instead of developing a platform from scratch, and his comment spawned a long string of rumors. Could it be Tesla? Could it be Lucid? No, and no; Scott revealed that BMW is one of the contenders. While this is pure speculation, the German firm’s CLAR platform is modular enough to accommodate anything from a relatively compact model such as the 2 Series to a big SUV like the X7. Clearly, there’s potential for McLaren to build something on it.

Powertrain details remain under wraps as well, and this point will influence the platform. BMW builds EVs, hybrids, and non-electrified cars on its CLAR architecture. Scott added that, if McLaren decides to make its SUV purely electric, the platform could come from an unnamed partner in Southeast Asia. That’s unlikely to be the case, however, as Scott told CarScoops that McLaren sees “no market interest” in an electric SUV with a price tag that hovers around $500,000. He expects this will change later in the 2020s as battery technology advances.

The idea isn’t to take, say, the BMW XM and re-skin in into something that merely looks like a McLaren. The model would likely feature a brand-specific chassis setup plus a host of changes to keep weight and structural rigidity in check. It will need to feel and drive like a true McLaren. The idea is to make something along the lines of the Ferrari Purosangue, not a higher-volume model like the Lamborghini Urus.

McLaren hopes to find a platform for its SUV by the end of 2024, according to the report. Until then, the brand has a lot on its plate: It will start to deliver the 2025 Artura Spider in the coming months, and it’s allegedly working on a long-awaited successor to the P1 hypercar.

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