McLaren/Honda Sportscar?S

By now, everyone has heard that Honda is coming back to Formula 1 as an engine supplier. Turbo V6 engines will be the regulated standard for the premier motorsports starting in 2014, and Honda will reenter the sport in 2015 once they've spent a great deal of time engineering the new motor.

A few months ago, there was talk about McLaren constructing a smaller, less powerful road car to compete with the 911. The costs of developing a new engine are enormous, and McLaren already have a V8. Before Honda's return to F1, the assumption was that McLaren were just going to slap a detuned version of their current V8 in the back and call it good. The only problem with this theory is the cost of production of their V8 in its low-volume quantity.

Why not get Honda to build McLaren a turbo V6? The economies of scale for a large company like Honda allow for a cheaper engine, instead of McLaren having to invest in the development and production of a whole new engine just for one model trying to compete with the 911. The smaller engine in the new car would also separate the differences and advantages of the more expensive V8 powered MP-12C, a concern I highlighted when the smaller car rumor was first spread.

The F1 advertising from the partnership would stir consumer interest. Honda could use the engine in some higher-end Acuras, including a refresh to the NSX with a more powerful tubro V6, and McLaren could build the carbon fiber monocoque chasis for the NSX refresh.

McLaren/Honda Sportscar?S

These are all just potential microeconomic advantages of this renewed McLaren/Honda partnership. And these exchanges probably won't happen for a few years (think 2016+). But I think the partnership is a good decision for both companies; McLaren will drop their development costs and increase profits, while Honda attempts to lose their perception of being a company that builds dull automobiles with lackluster sportiness.