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McLaren's head of Americas steps down


McLaren Americas President Tony Joseph is leaving the British sports car maker.

Nicolas Brown, vice president of sales for the Americas, will take over in the interim while a permanent successor is identified, McLaren told U.S. dealers on Tuesday.

Joseph, 53, had been with the brand since it set up shop in the U.S. 12 years ago, leading its growth from a fledgling operation to a profitable automaker with a growing retail base.

Before joining McLaren Automotive, the road-car unit of the British race-car builder, the Michigan native spent time at Ferrari, Porsche and Subaru.

In a letter to dealers, McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt said: “Tony . . . has played an enormous role in growing the region to become the leading global market for McLaren. Tony’s passion for the brand and commitment to our shared success has been inspirational. He will be greatly missed by the entire McLaren team and we wish him the very best in his future endeavors.”

McLaren dealer Robert DiStanislao described Joseph as an “excellent communicator — even when he had to deliver bad news.”

DiStanislao recalled an incident when the McLaren MP4-12C launched in 2012. There was an issue with the audio equipment in the car and Joseph went to bat for dealers.

“He responded quickly and very positively,” said DiStanislao, president of RDS Automotive, which operates two McLaren stores in Philadelphia and Newport Beach, Calif.

McLaren fixed the issue and remapped the software to give the car 60 more horsepower, DiStanislao said.

But the dealer believes that a “culture clash” with his British bosses could have led to Joseph’s departure from the company.

“Tony’s personality is very direct,” DiStanislao said. “The American direct approach doesn’t always align perfectly with the British approach.”

During his tenure, Joseph grew U.S. sales, making it one of McLaren’s biggest markets. He also moved the automaker’s North American headquarters from midtown Manhattan to suburban Dallas.

Joseph is leaving McLaren well positioned, DiStanislao said.

“The supply-demand dynamic is excellent right now,” the dealer said. “There’s far more demand than there is product. The new Artura order bank is filling, and we expect that to be a very successful launch.”

Joseph’s successor must maintain the momentum and ensure demand outstrips supply.

“There will be a new demand for more McLaren dealers,” DiStanislao said. “It will be important to keep the dealer count low” to ensure product exclusivity and maintain margins.

Brown previously was a corporate strategy manager at BMW of North America.

“We all like Nick,” DiStanislao said. “He’s had great experience in the luxury market and has a good understanding of the customer service experience.”

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