A key milestone was marked yesterday at the Yorkshire manufacturing centre that from 2019 will start producing carbon fibre tubs for McLaren Automotive, the British creator of luxury sportscars and supercars.
As darkness descended at the £50million McLaren Composites Technology Centre (MCTC) nearing completion in the Sheffield region, McLaren Automotive Chief Executive Mike Flewitt was on-hand to illuminate the famous marque’s sign.
A spectacular indoor lightshow then greeted guests, culminating in the recently unveiled McLaren Senna road car performing a series of expertly choregraphed ‘doughnuts’ to leave a trail of fresh Pirelli tyre rubber on the new centre’s floor to ‘christen’ it – McLaren style.
Named after the famous Brazilian Formula 1 driver Ayrton Senna, who won all three of his World Championships at the wheel of a McLaren, the McLaren Senna – whose design was led by Harrogate- born Rob Melville – was accompanied by Ayrton’s original Grand Prix winning McLaren MP4/5 race car from 1989.
The event provided the first glimpse inside the new composites technology centre which, when open, will be home to McLaren’s second production facility and the first ever outside of its native Woking. Over 40 McLaren employees are already based in Sheffield, housed at the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, where they are advancing the process for creating the lightweight carbon fibre Monocage structures at the heart of McLaren cars.
When fully operational, around 200 people will work at the MCTC, which will supply carbon fibre tubs to the McLaren Production Centre in Surrey where the company’s sportcars and supercars are hand- assembled.
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, sportscar or supercar without it since.
McLaren is continuing to develop its expertise in both hybrid – it delivered the world’s first hybrid hypercar the P1TM over five years ago – and lightweight materials. Combined, the two are fundamental in the development of future automotive technologies, capable of driving increased performance while meeting ever stricter environmental legislation. Under the company’s ambitious Track22 business plan, at least half of the brand’s range will feature hybrid technology by 2022.
McLaren Automotive announced earlier this month that it had recorded another record year of growth, selling a total of 3,340 cars in 2017.
It follows the introduction last year of new models in each of the three established McLaren product families; the 570S Spider was added to the Sports Series, the 720S replaced the 650S in the Super Series and the track-concentrated McLaren Senna joined the Ultimate Series.
Mike Flewitt, McLaren Automotive Chief Executive said: “Today is an important and exciting milestone for everyone at McLaren Automotive, as well as a personal honour, to officially turn on the McLaren sign at what will be our McLaren Composites Technology Centre when it opens later this year.
“It marks the continueddevelopment of the current 2,100 strong company, and will bring new jobs to the Sheffield region which has a proud association with advanced materials; first with steel and now a future to look forward to with carbon fibre innovation and production for McLaren.”