McLaren will build a £50 million factory in Sheffield to manufacture its carbonfibre chassis. The new facility will create 200 jobs and construction is set to begin early this year, with full production slated for 2020.
McLaren Automotive boss Mike Flewitt said: “We want to have control of all technologies we believe are core to McLaren, and lightweight composite construction is one of the most important. We still have a good relationship with our Austrian supplier and we’ll keep working with them. They’ll build chassis for our existing models and the car [the 650S replacement] we’re launching next month at the Geneva motor show.”
The new purpose-built facility is the result of a partnership between McLaren Automotive, the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and Sheffield City Council.
McLaren claims the new centre will save around £10m compared with current costs while providing an extra £100m to the local economy by 2028.
The university and McLaren will collaborate on two years’ research and development prior to the opening of the Composites Technology Centre.
Flewitt said the company’s heritage in carbonfibre chassis, starting with the McLaren MP4/1 Formula 1 car of 1981, as well as its use in current production models, such as the 570S and 675LT Spider, made it an obvious decision to invest in this factory.
He said: “Creating a facility where we can manufacture our own carbonfibre chassis structures is therefore a logical next step.”
Flewitt said McLaren had evaluated “several” options but found this opportunity with the AMRC compelling.
“At the AMRC. we will have access to some of the world’s finest composites and materials research capabilities,” he said.
Although doing work at the facility for other companies isn’t a priority. Flewitt said it’s not out the question: “We have plenty to do between now and the early 2020s just meeting the timetable we’ve laid down. But I wouldn’t rule it out.”