McLaren revs up dealerships in China race

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McLaren revs up dealerships in China race
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McLaren is experiencing strong demand for its brand in China following the recent opening of four dealerships, a number it plans to double next year, an executive at the British sports car manufacturer told CNBC on Wednesday.

China, the world's second-biggest economy, has become a key market for luxury car brands including Ferrari and Lamborghini who have targeted the country despite a recent slowdown in economic growth.

(Read more: Hottest battle among automakers: Luxury under $50,000 )

Mirko Bordiga, regional director for Asia-Pacific at McLaren Automotive, said the company now has four dealerships operating in China and hopes to take that number to eight next year.

"China will account for 10 percent of company volumes next year. If you look at the P1 - just 375 units are produced worldwide and out of this 38 have been sold in China," he said referring, to McLaren's famous million-dollar sports car.

According to a report by Swiss bank Credit Suisse (Swiss Exchange: CSGN-CH) earlier this month, China generated 90,000 millionaires in the past 12 months.

(Read more: US is minting almost all of the world's millionaires )

McLaren Automotive, which is part of the group that runs the McLaren Formula 1 racing team, opened its first China dealerships in September. It joins a long list of luxury brands that have entered the China market in recent years to take advantage of growing consumer wealth.

Consulting firm McKinsey expects that global auto profits will grow 50 percent by 2020, with more than half of that coming from China.

Bordiga said that McLaren was seeing robust demand across Asia, which Japan its top-selling market.

In China, the company was benefiting from being the newest brand on the market, he added.

"In markets that are new such as China, they like new things, things that are cool," he said. "So since we are the new kids on the block, we are experiencing a lot of demand."

(Read more: Auto profits to surge, over half coming from China )

Talking about how McLaren would do in China against its competitors, Bordiga said: "The reality is that we only started producing road cars about three years ago, so we really have to learn our way through. But we have 50 years of F1 technology and we are applying that to our cars."

-By CNBC.Com's Dhara Ranasinghe; Follow her on Twitter @DharaCNBC



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