McLaren opens new £50m factory for MP4-12C supercar

Posted on 17 Nov 2011

McLaren Group chairman Ron Dennis and the Prime Minister reveal McLaren’s new 32,000 square metre supercar factory to the world.

Formula One and supercar manufacturer McLaren today opened its new, clinically clean McLaren Production Centre for the MP4-12C, one of the world’s fastest and most expensive road legal cars.

Company boss Ron Dennis was joined by Prime Minister David Cameron, McLaren Formula One drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, Tour de France hero Mark Cavendish and a host of suppliers and customers for the grand opening at the McLaren Technology Centre (MTC) in Woking, Surrey.

Up to 400 new jobs will be created by the production facility when it is at full capacity.

Mr Dennis said also explained his company’s expansion plans into new markets, such as human telemetry and sports engineering, as well as plans to build a new centre for McLaren Applied Technologies.

The award-winning £168,500 MP4-12C, McLaren’s first semi-volume production road car, has been in semi-scale production for several months within the MTC building.

McLaren Technology Centre birds eye view
McLaren Technology Centre birds eye view

Today marked the new site’s official opening, as the  equipment and personnel have spent two months relocating from the  MTC building, while test rigs and large equipment have been assembled here over the last 18-months. Cars are being produced at the rate of about two per day, while full capacity at the new site is 45-units per day, or a target of 2,000 cars per  year.

The company has pre-sold nearly 1,800 cars and expects to reach full capacity production in the next two to five years.

Forecast production for the car, one of the world’s most expensive, is to double production to 4,000 per year in the next five years, creating another 300 engineering jobs.

The factory, which cost about £50 million to build, is part of McLaren Automotive, the road car division of the group. With all R&D, subcontracting, supply chain management and manufacturing, the total cost of the division is about £800m – requiring sales of about 4,750 cars for the company to breakeven.

The event marks another significant chapter in McLaren’s growth curve, which includes coming second in the 2011 Formula One constructors’ competition, and the expansion of its portfolio into high performance bicycles, human telemetry and engineering for the British Olympic Association in disciplines like sailing and cycling.

Mclaren Technology Centre. worker and mclaren staff. car
Super car: inside the new factory for the McLaren MP4-12C

McLaren’s chairman Ron Dennis hailed the work of his everyone at his company in getting the car’s production to this point. Along with the
divisional managing directors, he also praised the fast track growth and achievements of some of the companies in the group.

McLaren Applied Technologies, a division that applies the  Formula One-derived engineering skills outside the motorsport sector, has
recently collaborated with National Air Services to improve ground-level air traffic efficiency for airports and is being trialled at Heathrow.

The company has filed for planning permission to build the McLaren Applied Technologies Centre on land next to the McLaren Group estate.

This division also worked with bicycle manufacturer Specialised on the S-Works + McLaren Venge bike that helped British cyclist Mark Cavendish win the green jersey in the 2011 Tour de France and the road race World Championship.

Ron Dennis also acknowledged the achievement of McLaren Electronic Systems, who in 2012 will supply complete electronic control units to the world’s top three motorsport competitions, Formula One, IndyCar and NASCAR. All these systems are designed and manufactured at McLaren’s base in Woking, Surrey.

Mr Dennis also took the opportunity to praise his company’s work to demonstrate manufacturing to school children with the Government’s “See Inside Manufacturing” campaign. Throughout October, a nationwide series of events brought children to most of the UK’s automotive industry and McLaren took a lead role in this initiative. Local school Woking School, who won the See Inside Manufacturing competition, attended the opening day.

Ron Dennis said: “Why are we doing all this? Firstly, we are committed to growth, which is good for jobs and for UK plc. We believe passionately about making things, and we very much support the desire of the Government to rebalance the economy. Manufacturing as a proportion of GDP has fallen by seven per cent since 1990 – we must all work to arrest this decline.

He acknowledged Woking School’s achievement as a “fantastic sign that young people are being inspired to work in manufacturing.” He added: “I hope to ensure, through our work and with support from the Government, that the scientists and technologists of the future dare to try to do what we have are doing.”

PM hails McLaren and UK manufacturing revival

David Cameron toured the new factory and praised Mr Dennis and McLaren’s achievements. He said: “I’ve been to many car plants but I’ve never been to anything quite like this,” in reference to McLaren’s famous, ultra-clean working space.

Mp4-12Cs in assembly at McLaren's new factory in Woking
MP4-12Cs in assembly at McLaren's futuristic new factory in Woking

The Prime Minister emphasised that the renaissance in the UK automotive industry stretched beyond McLaren, citing Nissan’s next generation of Qashqai’s, and the new electric LEAF, both due to start production in Sunderland next year. Vauxhall’s new Vivaro van is due to “huge amounts” of its supply chain back into the UK, he said, and mentioned that “we knew we were back on
track in this sector when [French newspaper] Le Monde hailed Jaguar Land Rover’s new factory and 1,000 new jobs as a great British success story.”

The PM acknowledged the very difficult  business conditions but said that companies
like McLaren were “showing the world that Britain are back making things and is
open for business.”

The supercars feature a carbon fibre monocoque cell, based on Formula One principles, that is moulded in Austria. The manufacturing process has been fine-tuned so at full capacity, assembly is comprised of eight-cycles of 45 minutes, with quality control checks at each stage. Painting the car is a 56-stage process and 60%-70% of the cars are built by hand.

The new MP4-12C factory took about 15-months to build following 18-months of planning applications.