McLaren Automotive has picked former Audi sales executive Greg Levine to oversee the global launch and marketing of its first high-performance road car, the 600hp MP4-12C.
Named sales and marketing director, the 39-year-old South African-born Levine brings 15 years of industry experience to the post. He joins McLaren from Audi UK, where he was appointed head of operations in November 2008 after a five-year stint as head of sales and marketing at Audi South Africa.
He previously held various marketing and product-development posts for Nissan and Fiat Auto in Europe and South Africa.
While at Audi South Africa in 2007, Levine managed the successful launch of another high-performance exotic, the hand-built Audi R8. The demonstrated ability to shepherd such a rarified car to market -- experience that few auto executives can claim -- proved to be a major draw for McLaren.
“Greg has enjoyed great success in South Africa and the UK,” McLaren Managing Director Antony Sheriff said in a statement. “His knowledge of the retail business and brand-building is excellent, and the fact that he has chosen to step into this crucial role at McLaren Automotive is testimony both to his drive and ambition.”
The MP4-12C is meant to be the first in a range of high-performance road cars from McLaren, best known for its F1-circuit racecars. It goes on sale in the UK and Europe this spring at an expected price of 169,505 pounds ($267,700) in the UK and starting at 200,000 euros ($267,270) in the rest of Europe.
Powered by a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-8, the 12-C weighs just 2,860 pounds (about 1300kg) because of its lightweight carbon-fiber composite construction. Not surprisingly, McLaren says it will go from zero to 124 mph (200kph) in under 10 seconds and top out at over 200 mph.
The car will be produced at a new plant nearing completion next to McLaren headquarters in Woking, England. Designed to build up to 4,000 units a year, the 40 million pound plant is scheduled to open in June.
“McLaren's plans for a brand new car company are unique. They cover all aspects from design and development, to setting up a global retail network to launching new technologies and processes,” Levine said in the statement. “I have watched this project grow with great interest and feel privileged to join at such an important phase in its development.”
Levine will directly oversee a startup network of 35 dealers in 19 countries. They are expected to sell a combined 1,000 cars in the first full year, although the U.S. market alone is projected to account for up to 400 units.
Levine understands that dealers are critical to achieving any manufacturer's targets, no matter how good the car.
“My philosophy is that the front line produces the bottom line,” he said in a 2008 interview, on being named head of Audi UK. “So you can be sure that my approach will be closely linked to supporting dealers in the challenging months that lie ahead.”