New technology centre for McLaren Automotive
By Shereen Shabnam
Staying a step ahead of the game has been a key trait of the McLaren team and hence another milestone was marked recently announcing that the Yorkshire manufacturing centre from 2019 will start producing carbon fibre tubs for McLaren Automotive, the British creator of luxury sportscars and supercars.
The £50million McLaren Composites Technology Centre (MCTC), nearing completion in the Sheffield region came to light with McLaren Automotive Chief Executive Mike Flewitt on-hand to illuminate the famous marque’s sign.
As part of the celebrations, a spectacular indoor lightshow greeted guests and the final experience included 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.
The McLaren Senna is named after the famous Brazilian Formula 1 driver Ayrton Senna, who won all three of his World Championships with a McLaren car. The McLaren Senna design was led by Rob Melville, accompanied by Ayrton’s original Grand Prix winning McLaren MP4/5 race car from 1989.
Guests attending were able to get a 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.
There are over 40 McLaren employees already based in Sheffield, housed at the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, 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 sport cars and supercars are hand- assembled by skilled craftsmen.
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 since then, the company has never made a racecar, sports car or super car without it.
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.