Update: Following the publishing of this story, a report in Autocar suggested Audi had purchased both McLaren Automotive and McLaren Racing. However, since then McLaren has released a statement denying this. It reads:
“McLaren Group is aware of a news media report stating it has been sold to Audi. This is wholly inaccurate and McLaren is seeking to have the story removed.
McLaren’s technology strategy has always involved ongoing discussions and collaboration with relevant partners and suppliers, including other carmakers, however, there has been no change in the ownership structure of the McLaren Group.”
Original story continues below
Two of the ‘big three’ premium German car brands is reportedly each after McLaren, but potentially not the same bits. According to a new report in Car Magazine, BMW is mostly interested in the ‘McLaren Automotive’ supercar business, whereas Audi is after both that and the F1 side of the equation.
Either one of these scenarios would give a conclusion to one of the two most notable ‘will they/won’t they’ sagas in the motoring industry - BMW making a supercar, and VW Group entering F1.
As it stands, a long-awaited BMW supercar seems all-but impossible given how much it’d cost the company to develop. With McLaren on board, however, such a thing becomes far easier. Woking has both a new carbon fibre platform and a fresh hybrid V6 engine in its Artura, providing myriad supercar possibilities for BMW. It’d be a neat combining of forces considering the last time these names came together was for the S70/2 V12-powered McLaren F1.
Car says it’s “not clear” is BMW will also attempt to nab the McLaren Racing Limited, the F1 team that sits under the ‘McLaren Group’ banner alongside the road car business. The German company exited the sport in 2009, and with plans to return to endurance racing via the new LMDh rules on the horizon, engaging in top tier single-seater racing at the same time might not seem so palatable.
VW Group has two brands prepping LMDh cars - Audi and Porsche - but it’s a far larger company. Not to mention one that’s been mulling over an F1 entry for years - McLaren Racing would give it a turnkey, championship-winning outfit that looks on its way to recapturing past glories.
To purchase both the F1 and road car parts of the business, Audi would need to pay around £1 billion. The third pillar of McLaren Group, McLaren Applied, is not mentioned in Car’s report. Jörg Astalosch, ex-Ital Design boss and once a confidant of Ferdinand Piech, is said to be chief liaison officer for the talks.
BMW meanwhile will reportedly engage in its first official meeting with Mumtalakat, the Bahrain state investment fund and biggest McLaren shareholder, in December. Speaking to Reuters, BMW denied talk of a takeover, branding a similar report in Automobilwoche as “wrong”. Audi meanwhile told the news agency that it “regularly considers different cooperation opportunities,” but didn’t specifically comment on the prospect of acquiring McLaren.
The sale of McLaren to Audi, BMW or another party certainly doesn’t seem outside the realms of possibility. The company finds itself in a precarious position, with a £222.9 million loss reported in 2020, a year when sales plummeted by 64 per cent. CEO Mike Flewitt stepped down a few weeks ago after eight years with the company, and Artura, key for the brand’s future, has been set back by delays.