McLaren Automotive opens carbon fibre facility in the UK
Lightweight vehicles result in speed and Formula One constructor McLaren knows this. The firm recently opened a new £50 million carbon fibre production facility in Sheffield, Yorkshire, in a bid to develop further its powertrain technology to save weight and produce greater energy efficiencies for its sports cars.
The firm says its McLaren composites technology centre (MCTC) will aim to be a world-leader in innovating lightweight carbon fibre and composites to reduce weight and save energy in its future car models, with prototyping already in advancement on McLaren’s next generation of lightweight carbon fibre tubs, which it says are integral to the agility and performance of its sports cars and supercars.
First announced in February 2017, construction commenced just five months later and following six months of fit-out, the MCTC is now the company’s first purpose-built facility outside of the current McLaren campus in Surrey.
McLaren says it will tap into the Sheffield region’s materials expertise, skills, university resources, and dynamism will help it to continue to innovate quickly and launch 18 new models or derivatives under its ambitious Track25 business plan that are lightest in class by 2025.
The firm also said that the local sourcing of the carbon fibre chassis also increases the average percentage (by value) of a McLaren car sourced in the UK by around 8% from its current average of around 50%, depending on the model.
Carbon fibre has long been a part of McLaren’s DNA, the company having introduced the very first carbon fibre chassis into Formula 1 in 1981. Carbon fibre’s innate strength and lightweight properties mean that the company has never made a race car, sports car or supercar without it since.
After completing trial tubs in 2019 and once fully operational in 2020, the MCTC will create over 200 direct jobs and produce carbon fibre tubs that will be sent to the McLaren Production Centre (MPC) in Woking, Surrey, for hand assembly into cars, over 90% of which are then exported to markets worldwide.
The target is that the MCTC will deliver £100 million of gross value-added benefit to the local economy by 2028 as well as support skills development in the region.
Mike Flewitt, Chief Executive Officer, McLaren Automotive, said: “It is an important milestone for us as a ground-breaking, innovative car company and allows us to tap into the great energy, vitality and skills this part of the world has to offer. What goes on here at the MCTC will be vital for our ability to make good on our intention to continue to develop and unveil cars that are lightest in class; it is my belief that Britain –through facilities like this - can become a world leader in lightweight materials technology that will help create more efficient future vehicles.” The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Bahrain, were at the official opening of the facility.