A pioneering partnership between luxury sports car producer 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 £100 million boost to the economy.
The high-performance supercar manufacturer has announced today (Thursday 9 February 2017) that it will open a new purpose-built Composites Technology Centre in the North of England’s Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District – a world-class centre of manufacturing excellence within the Sheffield City Region.
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.
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 £50 million.
The Composites Technology Centre represents a significant reshoring of the manufacturing of car chassis to the North of England – a key objective of Northern Powerhouse and Industrial Strategy policies. Based in the UK’s first Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District, the site of the new centre offers world-class research, skills and partnerships.
McLaren Automotive and the University of Sheffield will deliver a two-year research and development programme, which will lead to the development of a production facility to build its lightweight carbon fibre chassis for its new models from 2020. The University of Sheffield’s AMRC Training Centre will also immediately start training McLaren apprentices who will work in the new facility.
Professor 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 praised the University of Sheffield; Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership; Sheffield City Council and its inward investment arm, Creative Sheffield; for their part in helping to clinch the deal.
The University’s ongoing investments in facilities and developing capabilities had been a catalyst to attract McLaren. These investments had further enabled the AMRC’s Composite Centre to push the boundaries of manufacturing capabilities across all market sectors.
President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, Professor Sir Keith Burnett, added: “This investment – and the innovation, jobs, training and opportunities it offers – is hugely significant for our region, the North of England and the UK’s global, industrial ambitions.
“What we’re offering is unrivalled access to world-leading research, development and established partnerships with industry. We also have an exceptional facility that offers degree apprenticeships – meaning we can train our region’s young people with the skills it needs to power the manufacturing workforce of the future.”
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.
Mike Flewitt, Chief Executive Officer of McLaren Automotive, said: “In 1981, McLaren was the first company to recognise the exceptional properties of carbon fibre, and we have designed the highly-technical material to be at the heart of every McLaren road and racing car ever since.
“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.”
He added: “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 centre hopes to deliver cost savings of around £10million and £100 million of GVA (gross value added) benefit to the local economy by 2028. Opportunities for expansion thereafter could create an ambition of doubling that to £200 million. The in-sourcing of the manufacture of the carbon fibre chassis also increases the average percentage (by value) of a McLaren car sourced in the UK by around eight per cent from its average of around 50 per cent, depending on model.
First published on Sheffield.ac.uk. Take a look at the University of Sheffield website for more information.