McLaren’s new £50 million carbon fibre factory has been officially opened by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with the help of the Crown Prince of Bahrain Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa.
Predicted to generate £100 million for the local economy over the next decade, the new factory sees McLaren take production of its carbon fibre ‘monocells’, the heart of all its road cars, in house for the first time.
Called the McLaren Composites Technology Centre, the new Sheffield operation will deliver carbon fibre monocells to McLaren’s supercar factory in Surrey.
The opening of the factory was fittingly commemorated by the unveiling of a plaque – made from carbon fibre.
The Royal visitors were given a tour of the pre-production carbon fibre tub line and spoke to the 50 employees already working at the site. McLaren expects this will grow to more than 200 when the factory is fully open.
Built on a former coal mile, the four-acre factory will begin full trial prototype production next year and be fully operational by 2020. McLaren says that half the content of its cars already comes from Britain: when Sheffield is on stream, this will increase by 8 percent, to nearly 60 percent. That will make McLaren’s future sports cars some of the most ‘British’ in the car industry.
McLaren also reminds us that it didn’t just introduce carbon fibre into Formula 1 back in 1981, but has never actually made a race car or a road car without carbon fibre since then.
The firm is currently working on an ambitious strategy called Track25 that will launch 18 new models up to 2025 – for which it will invest £1.2 billion in R&D. The Sheffield factory will, from 2020, play a pivotal role in the rollout of these next-generation McLarens.