It's the kind of speed you'd expect from an F1 carmaker. It barely opened its doors here and only just kicked off "officially" but McLaren Mumbai has already sold around ten cars in India, say officials with the company.
McLaren is best known as a successful Formula One team with cars that are designed and built for high performance and targeted at purists - they don't come with unnecessary bells and whistles such as music systems or technological gimmickry. They are lightweight and powered by large-engines that generate 600 and 700-plus BHP depending on the model.
British luxury supercar maker McLaren Automotive recently confirmed its entry into India, the brand's 41st global market. With the opening of the first retail outlet McLaren Mumbai in October, McLaren's arrival in India forms a key part of the marque's global expansion plans and extends the brand's growing presence in the Asia Pacific region.
Aficionado's see the move as a thumbs up for the niche segment. "McLaren coming to India is great news as it expands the market," says Gautam Singhania, the chairman of the Raymond Group and a McLaren owner.
Lalit Choudary of McLaren Mumbai which is run by the Infinity Group says that "In absolute terms, the brand has unique appeal because of it's aggressive style but with British pedigree. So that's a unique mix. India has always had a long, proven kind of appreciation for British built luxury products."
McLaren cars are made at the McLaren Technology Centre opened by Her Majesty The Queen with every supercar hand-built at the adjoining McLaren Production Centre, both in Woking, Surrey south of London.
While 10 McLarens have already been delivered the brand has received allocations for another 7-8 cars. "Whatever we are getting is pretty much sold. Getting allocations has been tough given the supply constraints witnessed globally. That being said, we are thrilled the brand could offer us the variety of models in good numbers including the super exclusive 765LT spyder. We will end the year selling all the cars that we get which is roughly in the range of 17-18 cars," Choudhary added.
In June, entertainment tycoon Bhushan Kumar of T-Series presented Bhool Bhoolaiya 2 actor Kartik Aaryan an orange 720 S GT which can go from 0-100 km h in around 3 seconds and retailed for about ₹4.7 crore.
McLaren will sell models including the GT, 720 S, 765 LT and later its first hybrid car, the Artura. Founded in 1963 by Bruce McLaren.
What will the cars cost? Choudary says "The 720S is between ₹5 and ₹6 Crore, ex showroom. The GT is more in the range of ₹4 crore plus and then the Artura will come in between that range and hit the markets sometime later in the year." McLaren Mumbai has hired a team of around 20 professionals dedicated entirely to the brand.
While India's challenges for a supercar market include an underdeveloped infrastructure, excessive excise duties that make imports double or triple in price and an existent perception that luxury is a sin, the tide is turning albeit slowly.
Marquee brands such as Lamborghini in particular have demonstrated that they can push sales and drum up modest success. Part of why that has happened for them is the fact that they have had an SUV (Lamborghini Urus) boost sales and because of the aggressive marketing and promotions around driving activities that the VW-owned company has invested in over the years.
McLaren doesn't see that as a speed-breaker. "That is the USP of McLaren. They've stayed true to their sporting pedigree, by not getting into SUVs and they're not digressing from it. They're not chasing volumes, either and they have a very clear mind on the volume potential the brand has globally, and would like to be in that range," Choudary said. "So given that, I think their numbers will comfortably match the sports car range. So you don't need an SUV to succeed as a sports car manufacturer at these volumes." Annually, and worldwide McLaren does volumes of between 3,000 and 4,000 cars a year.
Who is the McLaren customer? "It's someone who wants superior handling, but is also comfortable with who they are and don't have anything to prove to anyone," Choudary adds, saying that the key differentiator for a McLaren is that "It is a very comfortable fast car to drive on our roads. It has great ground clearance can handle bumps and has the kind of acceleration that drivers want."
McLarens' biggest challenge for now in India? "Getting more cars for allocation to satisfy customer demand," says Choudary.