The new CEO of McLaren is ready to take on the toughest challenge of his industry

By TechThop Team

Posted on: 22 Aug, 2022

What better person to lead you into the next generation than your biggest rival? Here, it's Michael Leiters. In addition to being a technical director at Ferrari during the Prancing Horse's golden era, the new McLaren CEO also developed the Cayenne at Porsche.

However, he has been brought into McLaren at a difficult time. Artura, the company's new hybrid supercar, is still in development, and all of its models, with plenty of overlap, are too similar to one another.

McLaren has experienced change like never before as the dawn of electrification comes – a change even the Volkswagen Group struggles to cope with, never mind such a small car maker as McLaren that has no technical partner or a link-up with a larger company.

With Artura moving into the electrification era, there have been software problems, but it is finally ready to go. Despite many obstacles, both self-inflicted and those inflicted by others, McLaren has become a Ferrari rival and forced Ferrari to improve.

A fact Leiters is all too aware of, as we discussed in a world-exclusive interview Autocar was granted with him in his new role, just five weeks into his new job - you can read the full article soon.

While sitting in Leiters' old office in Italy, Leiters envisioned beating McLaren with 'how we can beat them?'. McLaren's first foray into electrification is discussed along with its plans to launch an SUV in the future, as well as how it can become sustainably profitable.

He speaks precisely and isn't afraid to mention McLaren's problems. Despite only being in the role for a short time, it's clear that he has already made an impact on the firm's priorities and the team he leads.

McLaren's test procedures must be improved. Quality must be improved and the supply chain must be strengthened. These are recurring themes throughout our nearly hour-long conversation.

As Leiters tackles each task, one never feels that he is trying to hide behind the task or that he is caught in the headlights. In his comments, there isn't a hint of hyperbole or BS.

A by-product of Ron Dennis' era, McLaren is known for being uber-corporate, yet Leiters isn't your typical suit - nor just his clothes. In recent years, he has developed the first hybrid supercar at Ferrari and led the development of the company's first SUV.

McLaren has occasionally beaten Ferrari in product terms over the last decade, but it has now fallen behind. However, it soon hopes to join Ferrari under Leiters, even if it's a leap to say it's on the verge of beating them yet again.

With a new technical partner in tow, Leiter's successor in Maranello might plot how to topple Woking once more, only this time, Woking can become a great car maker rather than just a maker of cars.

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