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McLaren’s top secret P13 car to launch in April

It's been one of the most talked-about and blogged-about launches in the sports car world, but now we have more details on McLaren Automotive's "Black Swan Project."

McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt told CNBC on Thursday that the company's next car, known as the P13, will launch at the New York Auto Show in April. Its starting price will be around $180,000—far lower than the company's current "entry-level" model, the 650S, which starts at around $270,000.

McLaren's flagship sports car, the P1, goes from zero to sixty in 2.7 seconds.
Amanda Weindel | CNBC
McLaren's flagship sports car, the P1, goes from zero to sixty in 2.7 seconds.

McLaren's flagship car is the P1, which does zero to 60 miles per hour in 2.7 seconds and costs $1.2 million. It sold out just six months after its launch.

Yet with the P13, at a starting price of less than $200,000, McLaren is now squarely taking aim at Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini. The company aims to sell up to 2,000 P13s worldwide in 2016. But Flewitt said McLaren isn't aiming to go mass market.

"It is slightly higher volume for us, but volume is relative," Flewitt said. "We'll always be a very exclusive car company."

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Wealthy buyers are mainly coming from the U.S.where McLaren will sell around 500 cars this yearas well as the Middle East and Asia, he said.

McLaren's advantage against the more traditional sports car companies is its technology, its racing history and its craftsmanship, Flewitt said. While the company sources many of its parts from other companies, it makes its own engine, chassis and other critical systems at its facility in Woking, a town west of Surrey, England.

"We're a newcomer in some ways," Flewitt said. "McLaren is famous for 50 years in motor sports, so we're a company that's built on technology."

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That technology is making cars faster, but also safer, Flewitt said. A McLaren owner in Texas crashed his P1 last weekjust a day after picking it up from the dealer. The images of the crumpled car and talk of the $1 million wreck sped around the Web, but the driver was not seriously injured.

"That gentleman down in Texas, it was really sad, he picked his car up and had an accident the next day," Flewitt said. "Nothing else involved, he hit a wet piece of road and the guy walked away. These cars are incredibly safe. But you have to think how you're going to enjoy them. You've got to be responsible when you use these cars."