DETROIT -- McLaren Automotive will aim for expanded sales in Asia and a new generation of hybrid cars as it steers toward a potential public offering.
"We need to put more cars into Asia," McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt said in a meeting Tuesday with reporters in Detroit, after being named a 2019 Automotive News All Star.
Sales of McLaren's carbon fiber and aluminum sports cars, which start at about 126,600 pounds in the U.K. for the cheapest model, the McLaren 540C, have fallen in the automaker's home market, McLaren's largest.
Flewitt said the drop reflected uncertainty over Brexit.
Demand in the U.S. and in Asian markets outside of China remains strong, he said.
McLaren plans to open dealerships in Vietnam and the Philippines, Flewitt said. "The next big ones are India and Russia. We are not in either and probably should be."
Flewitt has said in the past that the owners of the McLaren Group, led by Bahrain's sovereign wealth fund, are considering an initial public offering by 2025.
An IPO will likely come after all parts of the group, including McLaren Racing and a unit that markets technology, are generating cash, he said on Tuesday.
Sports-car makers have a mixed record on public markets. Ferrari has been one of the auto sector's best-performing stocks, up 68 percent this year. However, British sports-car maker Aston Martin has suffered a 59 percent decline.
McLaren sold about 4,800 cars in 2018 and is on track for a slightly lower number in 2019, Flewitt said.
An important piece of McLaren's expansion strategy will be unveiled next spring -- a hybrid car with a new architecture under the skin. However, McLaren does not plan to follow its rivals into the SUV market.
"We couldn't afford to do it," Flewitt said, adding, "it just doesn't fit the brand."
By 2024, McLaren will have additional production capacity coming online to increase sales to 6,000 cars a year - if the company can hit that volume without sacrificing profit margins, Flewitt said.
Profitability plays a role in McLaren's decision, so far, not to develop an full-electric car, Flewitt said.
Eventually the company will build an electric model, but for McLaren that will have to wait for lighter, lower-cost, solid-state batteries to be ready for commercial use, he said.
"Nobody is out there making money with electric cars," he said. "We can do what we need to do with hybrids."