Taking control of a super line of super cars
Mark Smyth spoke with Andreas Bareis, the new Super Series vehicle line director for McLaren
The birth of the MP4-12C totally changed McLaren. Until then, the company, started by founder Bruce McLaren, was famous mostly for its motor sport successes but also for one model, the legendary McLaren F1.
Since the arrival of the MP4-12C in 2011, things have moved so fast for the company and the cars, that it has hardly looked back, except of course for the occasional moment of nostalgia.
Today it has its Track 22 strategy and part of that is releasing one new model every year until 2022. Some of these are its hypercars such as the Senna which was recently launched. Six or seven of these $1m performance machines are heading to SA, but as if that is not astonishing enough, another two of the track-focused GTR versions are also coming here.
WE HAVE TO HAVE MULTIPLE PLANS TO DEAL WITH DIFFERENT PATHS. WE ASSESS EVERY PATH WITH THE PROS AND CONS.
But the Senna and the upcoming BP23 Ultimate Series model sit at the top of the company’s line-up, giving McLaren something to really shout about at a time when it cannot shout about its F1 campaign.
The hypercars are the cherry on top cars though, with the Super Series being the mainstay for the brand. It is a vital line-up for McLaren and just days before it was announced, we spoke with the new line director for Super Series at McLaren, Andreas Bareis. Prior to taking up the position he was MD for McLaren Middle East, Africa and Latin America.
His new role is one he has been building up to, ever since being in charge of quality control when he first started with McLaren in 2012. He says the key was to understand customers and dealers across various regions, and the new role "is perfect — made for me", given the experience he has gained.
Bareis has an engineering background which he has used extensively during his time at both Mercedes-Benz and Lotus in previous positions.
He says he always planned to go back into an engineering role and that he has been a part of the McLaren executive team even while working in other regions.
In fact he was part of the team that developed the Track 22 strategy he will now be involved even more closely in implementing. But he is also involved in looking five to 10 years beyond that strategy.
"We need to raise the bar," he says but adds that there are numerous challenges in the market, particularly when it comes to technology.
"We have to have multiple plans to deal with different paths. We assess every single path with the pros and cons."
He is speaking mainly about the switch to electrification or alternative drivetrains. McLaren has already produced the hybrid P1 hypercar but it has to decide which way to go and when.
"We can do the Tesla one, full electric or hybrid — we do not know which one," he says. He points out that battery technology provides a huge weight disadvantage in a sports car and the team needs to find a good way to apply it. In the meantime, they will continue to develop the internal combustion engine from an efficiency and emissions point of view while still getting even more performance.
Bareis says if you can merge solutions to all of these factors he would "definitely like to go more to battery technologies".
"I’m not sure about pure electric as hybrid is better," he says, citing the P1 as an example given that the customer was able to decide whether to have full power or cruise in electric mode, even in a supercar.
What Bareis is adamant about is McLaren must always ensure that drivers have an emotional connection to the car.
One element is the sound of the exhaust. "I’m very passionate about that," he says. But even this is an issue. Bareis says customers in some parts of the world find sound disrespectful, while others expect a supercar to make some noise. He and his team have to cater for all.
So what about customers who want a McLaren SUV?
"Still no," he says vehemently, adding: "I can 100% say there isn’t even a design sketch in the design studio."
"There is definitely business there, but not for McLaren."
BAREIS IS ADAMANT MCLAREN MUST ENSURE DRIVERS HAVE AN EMOTIONAL CONNECTION TO THE CAR.
While McLaren will leave SUVs up to the likes of Porsche, Lamborghini, Ferrari and Aston Martin, the company will continue to produce sports cars and super sports cars.
The latest model will only be officially revealed at the Goodwood Festival of Speed next month, but as you can see from the pics here, we have already spotted it testing at the Nurburgring. Not surprisingly, Bareis would not comment on the new model, but our sources have confirmed it as the 600LT.
It will be the most extreme version yet of the 570S and will feature high twin exhausts similar to those on the Senna.
There will be even more use of carbon fibre, particularly when it comes to aerodynamics and reducing weight.
There’s no word on performance figures yet, with McLaren keeping those until the reveal on July 12. Like the 675LT, the 600LT is likely to only be produced in limited numbers. While these photographs show the coupe, we firmly expect a spider open top version to follow soon after.
After that, only Bareis knows. And he’s certainly not telling.