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ANDREAS BAREIS: MCLAREN SUPER SERIES VEHICLE LINE DIRECTOR
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DESPITE ASSURANCES THAT ANDREAS BAREIS IS ONE OF THE MOST AMICABLE PEOPLE HE WAS EVER LIKELY TO MEET, DEON VAN DER WALT DESCRIBES HOW HE FELT A TINGE OF INTIMIDATION BEFORE GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS WITH MCLAREN’S NEW VEHICLE LINE DIRECTOR FOR THE SUPER SERIES, ANDREAS BAREIS.
For some background on McLaren’s former Managing Director for Middle East, Africa and Latin America, readers might remember Andreas Bareis from the one-on-one interview Driven conducted with him in the June 2016 edition. At that stage, he had just taken over the reins as regional chief. Not an easy job we’d say, but he was undeniably the best man for it at the time.
When Bareis joined McLaren in 2012, he was tasked with establishing a network for quality control and customer feedback. What this meant, is that he was responsible for finding out exactly what McLaren owners wanted, and expected from their cars; well, that’s the short version of it.
Some ways before that, he studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Applied Sciences in Stuttgart, Germany whereafter he joined the ranks at Mercedes-Benz, using his engineering skills on the production line, and to lead the operational activities at A123 Systems, the company that successfully introduced the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) into McLaren’s Formula 1 team.
CHALLENGE DISGUISED AS OPPORTUNITY
As Driven interviewed Andreas at the McLaren South Africa head-office
at Daytona in Sandton, he was about to step into the next vehicle-crafting chapter of his life, readying to swop the tight reins of his MD position for the driving seat of everything vehicle-development for Woking’s Super Series range. Focussed on the core of McLaren’s product portfolio, the Super Series range includes the company’s resurgent MP4-12C, the 650S, the track-focused 675LT and the hypercaradjacent 720S.
There’s no denying that Andreas has taken on an enormous responsibility, but then again, he is uniquely qualified with his experience in engineering, quality and most recently the managerial aspect that makes his quiver of expertise a triple-threat.
Asking him about the challenges of his new role, he merely smiled and, in an authoritative German accent, answered that it’s only getting up to speed during the first few months on the new job that he views as a potential challenge. Adding that the fast-paced environment at McLaren and being responsible for defining every developmental detail of an entire range of vehicles, will also keep him on his toes.
The upside is that his new role grants him the unique opportunity to put his signature on McLaren products. “The most exciting for me is if I can develop a car where I can incorporate my own ideas into it. It’s about taking a car from an idea, to sketch and through to concept phase where it has to be signed off by the executive committee, where after the car has to be fully delivered.”
FINDING THE SWEET SPOT
Immersing himself in McLaren’s 10step car-building process is where Andreas believes that his unique set of skills will be put to good use. As Vehicle Line Director, he can finally implement all the ideas and insights provided by clients, from what they would want in their supercar to possible improvements, which will become part of the DNA of a new generation of vehicles to roll off the McLaren factory floor.
This also creates a set of engineering challenges; from whether an increased door size will affect the car’s drag coefficient, to revised power output and how this will affect the longevity of the powertrain. In essence, there’s more to the job than just selecting the best colour scheme — it’s about finding the sweet spot between driving enjoyment, usability, performance, aesthetics and a bunch of elements we can hardly grasp and then, incorporating all of that in an effective manner.
Of course, we had to ask what it is that clients demand most from their McLarens. As it turns out, the overlapping areas of demand and execution are fuzzier than just a data graph.
According to Andreas, what is required of a McLaren not only differs from one individual to the next, but the needs are also geographical. He used an example where the technology demanded from a customer in Japan differs from what a South African would want, although we’d wager any South African’s wish list has a pot-hole resistant tyre compound on it. Andreas also believes that, on the road, customers want comfort, while on the flip side of the same coin, they also want to go to the nearest racetrack and ‘smash’ it around the bends in blistering time. Using the 720S as an example of customer feedback, he said it’s considerably more accessible on a day-to-day basis with easy-to-open doors and a level of comfort that resembles (as close as possible) that of a luxury cruiser.
The next objective for the man whose heart beats pure performance, is the McLaren Track22 programme. Rolled out in 2016, the programme shifts focus towards the ‘track’ that the supercar brand is on, leading upwards to 2022. The aim is to deliver 15 all-new supercar models that were launched since the programme’s inception, and according to Bareis, Track22 is already in full execution.
The road to 2022 also involves an advancement aspect in which the company aims to power at least 50% of all its cars using hybrid technology that is similar in execution to the petrol-hybrid powertrain in the P1 hypercar.
The future looks bright for McLaren, and especially the range at its core. We expect to see some even more impressive vehicles to roll out of Woking as Andreas Bareis pours his diverse knowledge and expertise into every sleek line and rumbling kilowatt.
Most importantly, however, is the personal stamp that he will wield in defining each McLaren that wears a Super Series badge going forward.