Editor’s Update: According to this new report from Bloomberg, BMW claims the article about it buying McLaren is “wrong.” So it seems that BMW was never in the hunt to buy the British supercar brand. While Audi neither outright confirmed nor denied its attempts to buy McLaren, it sort of hinted that it regularly looks into partnerships with other brands. At the moment, though, it seems BMW is out of the McLaren hunt.
Few automotive collaborations have been as special as the BMW V12-powered McLaren F1 of the 1990s, the iconic supercar that still holds the title for the fastest naturally aspirated production car. Back in 2015, some rumors emerged about the companies looking to ink a deal for a jointly developed supercar project with a mid-engine V8 layout, but it never happened.
Fast forward to November 2021, a source quoted by German media claims BMW and McLaren could collaborate once again, but in a more permanent manner. German publication Automobilwoche, an extension of Automotive News, alleges the Bavarian marque is interested in buying McLaren Automotive, the road car division of the Woking-based brand.
Sources familiar with the matter have told Automobilwoche that high-ranked BMW officials will allegedly negotiate with the Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company (“Mumtalakat”), which represents the sovereign wealth fund of the government of the Kingdom of Bahrain. It effectively controls McLaren by owning 62.55% of McLaren Group Limited.
According to the same report, Volkswagen Group’s luxury division Audi – which this year took control of Bentley – is interested in acquiring McLaren’s Formula 1 unit. Both BMW and Audi have been contacted by the media, but have yet to respond. It’s a Sunday after all, but hopefully, spokespersons working at the two German luxury brands will answer next week to inquires with something other than the usual “no comment.”
It is worth mentioning McLaren has been having financial issues for a while, and it goes without saying 2020 was a particularly bad year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Sales collapsed from the 4,662 cars delivered in 2019 to only 1,659 units, causing a massive loss of more than $900 million for 2020. It received a short-term loan from the National Bank of Bahrain, but that wasn’t enough to get back on track.
It had to not only sell a stake in the F1 racing team, but even sell and lease back its headquarters and manufacturing plant located in southern England. There’s a lot riding on the new Artura plug-in hybrid supercar to help improve the finances of McLaren, which is currently without a boss as Mike Flewitt announced at the end of October that he would leave after joining the company in 2012 and being appointed CEO a year later.