The announcement that McLaren Automotive will open a £50 million composites technology centre in Sheffield to develop carbon fibre chassis for its sports cars is a welcome boost to the UK’s manufacturing industry.
As well as bringing 200 jobs to South Yorkshire the facility will help build new skills and knowledge in the UK to support future innovations in motor manufacturing and materials. Production is being relocated from Austria, where it is currently outsourced.
In addition to saving McLaren an estimated £10 million, there should be an increase by around 50% of the proportion of parts it is able to source within the UK.
Bridging the gap between business and academia
The facility is the result of a partnership and combined investment by McLaren, Sheffield City Council and the University of Sheffield’s specialist Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC). It will be located near the AMRC, which is part of the high value manufacturing (HVM) Catapult Centres, supported by Innovate UK. This will enable McLaren to collaborate and draw from the centre’s composites and materials research capabilities and expertise.
Innovate UK has also supported McLaren on a number of collaborative research and development projects to help drive advancements in HVM.
Leading the carbon fibre revolution
McLaren has a history of working in composite materials having pioneered the world’s first road car with a carbon fibre chassis. All of its cars now come with this as standard.
Full production will begin at the site in 2020. There is also a possibility that the facility may be expanded in future.