“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,” said Professor Keith Ridgway, executive dean at the University of Sheffield's AMRC. “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.”
The Composites Technology Centre represents a reshoring of the manufacturing of car chassis to the North of England – a key objective of Northern Powerhouse and Industrial Strategy policies. It will also immediately start training McLaren apprentices who will work in the facility.
McLaren chief executive Mike Flewitt 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. Creating a facility where we can manufacture our own carbon fibre chassis structures is therefore a logical next step.”
The facility is due to start construction early this year with the first pre-production carbon fibre chassis expected to be delivered in the second half of 2017. Full production at the facility will begin by 2020.