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McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt Leaving the Supercar Business

McLaren Automotive CEO Mike Flewitt will be stepping down after spending eight years at his post. The supercar manufacturer has stated that it’s already in search of his replacement, though that will be just one of several issues it needs to square away.

While Flewitt oversaw the brand’s impressive global expansion efforts and push to integrate new technologies needed for a broader product lineup, McLaren is still reeling from work stoppages done in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Financial concerns have since encouraged the company to scale back its involvement in Formula One so it could prioritize its own survival, saving jobs wherever possible. 

Considering the organization was presumed to be on the cusp of going public, it wasn’t an ideal time for McLaren to confront an economic disaster. But it’s been doing what it can to hang in there. Near the start of the pandemic, Flewitt said the automaker would need to shrink the £1.2-billion ($1.65 billion USD) “Track25” plan designed to help it launch over a dozen vehicle variants (all of which would be hybrids) by 2025.

This April, the company sold off and re-leased its headquarters in Woking (Surrey, England). But it had already begun the restructuring process, vowing to sell a significant portion of its racing arm to U.S. investors. Over the summer, McLaren raised $755 million from existing investors and the sale of preference shares and equity warrants to some new faces at the LA-based Ares Management Corp. and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. Another $620 million was amassed via a bond issue.

While this has allowed the firm to resume some of its F1 involvement after a selloff, leadership has said some of that cash will be used to enter the EV-exclusive racing series. Thus far, McLaren has only confirmed Extreme E (presumably to appease the Saudi investors) for 2022. But it’s also filed for the option to run in the 2022 Formula E championship, assuming it feels like it can run a competitive season.

“I feel incredibly proud to have led McLaren Automotive through most of its first, highly-successful decade and am privileged to have played a part in the incredible McLaren story,” Flewitt in response to his departure. “This young company’s success is testament to the many passionate and talented people I have had the pleasure of working with and I look forward to seeing that success continue.”

McLaren Group has said that Michael Macht, a non-executive director who previously worked as the CEO of Porsche, will be taking care of operations while Chairman Paul Walsh will continue leading sales, marketing, and public relations. However, any additional duties will be temporary, as the business continues to look for a dedicated chief executive.

“Mike has been instrumental in McLaren now being recognised as one of the world’s leading luxury supercar brands, achieving the heights of success that have taken our competitors many more decades to achieve,” said Walsh. “We thank Mike for his tremendous contribution and wish him all the very best in his future [endeavors].”

[Images: McLaren Group]

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