Ron Dennis’s speech praises high-spec automotive manufacturing in the UK

Posted on 18 Nov 2011

Ron Dennis, executive chairman of McLaren Group and McLaren Automotive, spoke before an audience that included Prime Minister David Cameron at yesterday’s (Nov 17) launch of the McLaren Production Centre in Woking.

Mr Dennis outlined McLaren’s aim to encourage schoolchildren about a career in manufacturing. An abridged version of the full speech follows:

“Prime Minister, thank you for taking the time to join us here today. We appreciate your visit very much, since it demonstrates your commitment to our industry – an industry which sits at the very heart of your declared strategy to rebalance the UK economy.”

“McLaren Automotive has recently launched a high-performance sports car, the McLaren MP4-12C. We’ve already pre-sold almost 2,000 cars, and we’re proud that they’re being designed, developed and manufactured right here in Woking.”

“When the international motor racing season kicks off early next year, McLaren Electronic Systems, will be in a unique position. Every single car in Formula 1, every single car in the IndyCar series and every single car in the most popular racing series in the United States, NASCAR – will all be using engine control units made here in Woking.” McLaren Electronic Systems is the world leader in the field of automotive electronic control systems for motorsport.”

“But McLaren isn’t only about racing cars and sports cars. We’re now seeing very exciting developments from McLaren Applied Technologies. McLaren Applied Technologies develops motorsport-honed technologies for alternative applications, taking McLaren’s technological knowhow into areas that no Formula 1 team has ever been to before.”

“We’re working with the British Olympic Association on a number of sports, British Olympians benefitting from McLaren Applied Technologies during London 2012. For National Air Traffic Services, we’ve developed a system that simulates aircraft ground movements in British airports, including Heathrow.”

“Why is McLaren doing all this? We’re doing all this because we’re committed to growth. Which is good news for the local community. Good news for jobs. Good news for exports. And good news for UK plc.”

“We at McLaren believe passionately in the importance of making things, of manufacturing high-tech, state-of-the-art, premium products. We very much support the Prime Minister’s desire to rebalance the UK economy. Over the past 20 years, manufacturing as a percentage of the UK economy fell from just over 18 per cent in 1990 to 11 per cent in 2009. Recent figures have shown small but encouraging signs of improvement but we must all work to arrest the wider decline. That’s why McLaren aims to do its bit to support the rebalancing of the UK economy, we intend to tap in to what is in fact a far more robust tradition, a far grander tradition, than we’ve seen in recent years, with over-reliance on financial and service industries.”

“McLaren is, I hope, a dynamic and entrepreneurial force for good committed to designing and manufacturing high-tech, state-of-the-art, premium products. And, as I say, that’s a robust tradition, a grand tradition, which is why I was encouraged to see that where the old £50 note used to carry an image of Sir John Houblon, a banker, the new £50 note carries images of James Watt and Matthew Boulton – two of the greatest figures in the industrial history of Great Britain whose famous company, Boulton & Watt, engineered and manufactured state-of-the-art steam engines throughout the 19th century.”

I regard this new £50 note as a small but nevertheless clear indication that manufacturing and engineering are being recognised and prioritised by this Government and I hope that this Government will continue to remove the barriers that hamper British companies’ ability to grow and incentivise British companies to be successful in the future.

At McLaren we’re fully supportive of the move to encourage STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in our schools and colleges – and that’s why McLaren has been a pioneer of the Government’s ‘See Inside Manufacturing’ initiative which has encouraged schoolchildren, including children here in Woking, to come to McLaren to see and be inspired by what they can achieve if they study STEM subjects at school.

“We’re particularly proud to welcome here today the boys and girls from Woking College who were the winners of the recent McLaren Manufacturing Challenge, which was part of the Government’s ‘See Inside Manufacturing’ initiative, we regard their achievement as a fantastic example of what can be accomplished by young people in the STEM subjects, through ambition, dedication and teamwork.”

“And that’s the key word – teamwork. Because, inspired by steadfast shareholder support, intelligent and focused management and a talented and dedicated workforce, together, we’re daring to try. As a result of this unwavering effort, supported by the Government, we hope to inspire the scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians of the future to dare to try too.”