A CGI of McLaren Automotive's new manufacturing facility at the AMRC
McLaren Automotive chief executive Mike Flewett has praised the Sheffield City Region’s burgeoning manufacturing sector following the news that the automotive giant is set to reshore the production of its carbon fibre chassis to Sheffield.
A pioneering partnership between McLaren Automotive and the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) has led to the development of a significant new manufacturing facility – bringing a £100m boost to the economy.
Developed with the support of Sheffield City Council, the Composites Technology Centre will be responsible for the development and manufacturing of advanced carbon fibre chassis for McLaren Automotive’s supercars. The partnership will create more than 200 jobs through a combined investment of nearly £50m.
The announcement builds on the continued international success of the AMRC as an epicentre of regional and national economic impact, a source of life-changing apprenticeship opportunities for young people in industry and a large-scale innovation hub for some of the world’s most dynamic businesses.
Speaking about the company’s move to Sheffield, Mike Flewett, chief executive officer at McLaren Automotive, said: "Why Sheffield? Because of the local expertise and experience of working with new materials and advanced composites, plus the development facilities offered by the University of Sheffield and their AMRC facility. With other high-tech organisations, such a Boeing, Airbus, GKN and Rolls Royce plc alongside us at the AMRC, we are in very good company.”
He added: "The now-iconic McLaren F1 was the world’s first road car to be built with a carbon fibre chassis and every car built more recently by McLaren Automotive has the same. Creating a facility where we can manufacture our own carbon fibre chassis structures is therefore a logical next step.
“We evaluated several options to achieve this objective but the opportunity created by the AMRC at the University of Sheffield was compelling. At the AMRC, we will have access to some of the world’s finest composites and materials research capabilities, and I look forward to building a world-class facility and talented team at the new McLaren Composites Technology Centre."
The new McLaren Automotive facility is due to start construction in early 2017 with the first pre-production carbon fibre chassis, built using trial manufacturing processes in the AMRC, expected to be delivered to the McLaren Technology Centre in the second half of 2017. Full production at the facility will begin by 2020.
Prof Keith Ridgway, executive dean at the University of Sheffield’s AMRC, said: "This is a tremendous piece of news for the Sheffield City Region and a boost for its future as the UK’s centre for advanced manufacturing.
"In many respects it represents a new model that repositions manufacturing in Sheffield, taking it on from coal and steel to high performance components for the automotive, as well as the aerospace, sector.
"We will be working with McLaren Automotive on the construction of the carbon fibre chassis and further research, and we are talking with the supply chain. It is our ambition that supply chain companies will start to build factories here to supply the chassis plant."
Professor Ridgway’s thoughts were echoed by international trade secretary Liam Fox, who said: "McLaren is a prime example of the UK’s continued world-leading role in technology, design and innovation. Establishing their new Composites Technology Centre in Sheffield shows McLaren’s confidence in the UK as a world-leader in research that will support local business and high-skilled jobs while drawing international investment into the Northern Powerhouse.”
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