McLaren Automotive to build £50 million chassis factory

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Supercar giant McLaren Automotive is to build a £50 million Composites Technology Centre that is responsible for the development and manufacturing of carbon fibre chassis, it has been announced.

The factory – housed in a 7,000m2 building set over four acres – will be based close to the campus of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) at the University of Sheffield, and built with support from Sheffield City Council.

Construction on the new facility is due to begin in early 2017 with the first pre-production carbon fibre chassis expected to be delivered to the centre in the second half of 2017 using trial manufacturing processes in the AMRC before going into full production by 2020.

The partnership between McLaren Automotive, the University of Sheffield’s AMRC and Sheffield City Council will also create more than 200 jobs – approximately 150 production staff and 50 manufacturing support staff – through the combined investment of nearly £50 million.

Mike Flewitt, chief executive of McLaren Automotive, said that using carbon fibre is in McLaren's blood so creating a facility where the company can manufacture its own carbon fibre chassis structures is "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,” he said.

“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.”

Professor Keith Ridgway, AMRC executive dean, added: “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.

“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.”