Formula One automaker McLaren has launched a supercar, part of a drive by the firm to shift up a gear in its battle to capture the high-performance commercial sports car market.

The MP4-12C, modeled on technology used by McLaren's Formula One team, will go into production next year with 1,000 of the cars expected to roll off the production line in 2011, the firm said at a launch Thursday.

It will have a price tag of 150,000 pounds (230,000 dollars, 170,000 euros) and its production will create 300 new jobs, said McLaren.

The firm hopes to be producing 4,000 of the vehicles by the middle of the decade, and it is the first of a series of top-end sports cars McLaren plans to build in the coming years.

"We have long held the dream of building a range of McLaren high-performance sports cars that take the raw elements of Formula 1 principles," said McLaren Automotive chairman Ron Dennis.

"It is inspired by Formula One, built on the pride and passion to the highest quality and rich in McLaren DNA," he added.

Dennis said the plans "confirm our intention to challenge convention at the highest levels of automotive design, from a hi-tech home that I am proud to say will deliver jobs, expertise and innovation in manufacturing and engineering."

The 12C will be built at a specially designed plant south of London due to start production next year.

McLaren will sell the car through retailers in 19 countries, with North America expected to account for up to 40 percent of the market.




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