McLaren cuts losses and tilts new supercar at US

Revenue at supercar manufacturer McLaren Automotive fell by 10 per cent to £82.2m in the year ending 31 December 2009 according to its latest accounts. The fall was driven by a drop in production of McLaren's SLR which will be superseded next spring by the 200mph MP4-12C.

The £295,000 SLR launched in 2003 but was discontinued last year. In 2009, sales of the car brought in £75.5m, down from £85.7m the previous year.

Spending on development of the MP4-12C pushed the company into net loss in 2009 for the second year running. However, the lower SLR production volume reduced McLaren's expenses associated with it and the company's total costs fell by 29 per cent to £103.1m. This allowed it to half its pre-tax loss to £20.8m. A tax credit of £20.4m left it with a retained loss of £400,000 down from £43.3m the previous year. The deficit was covered by McLaren Automotive's shareholders. The Bahraini sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat owns a 50 per cent stake in the company with the remainder split equally between its chairman Ron Dennis and the Swiss TAG Group. The owners also provided over £60m of debt to McLaren Automotive in 2009 with its inter-company loans accelerating from £50.6m to £112.7m.

The MP4-12C will cost up to £175,000 and McLaren plans to build 1,000 in the first year alone, giving it 1 to 2 per cent of the global high-luxury sports car segment. By the middle of the decade the company hopes to be producing 4,000 vehicles a year. They will be built in a new factory on McLaren's site in Woking, Surrey which will employ 300 people.

It is the first of a series of high-end sports cars that McLaren could produce in the coming years. The MP4-12C will be sold through retailers in 19 countries, with North America expected to account for up to 40 per cent of the market.