Supercar firm McLaren roars into city

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Supercar company McLaren is roaring into Sheffield with a £50 million deal, a new factory and 200 jobs.

The firm will move research and production of its carbon fibre road car chassis to a site on the former Sheffield City Airport runway.

Crucially, the deal paves the way for further elements of production to be brought into the area, creating more jobs. And it will create even more roles in the local supply chain.

The McLaren group, based in Woking, Surrey, includes a Formula One team and McLaren Automotive which builds legendary road cars that sell for £250,000.

McLaren Automotive chief executive Mike Flewitt said: “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.

“We evaluated several options to achieve this objective but the opportunity created by the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre 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.”

Landing McLaren is seen as a huge coup for Sheffield City Region – not just for the jobs but its reputation for advanced manufacturing.

The top secret deal, called Project Mercury, has been almost two years in negotiation and involves a huge range of organisations.

It will be officially announced tomorrow. But The Star can today reveal the company will establish its first purpose-built factory outside of its McLaren campus in Austria, bringing home work currently carried out overseas.

Formed through a partnership between McLaren 
Automotive, the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Council, the new Composites Technology Centre will create more than 200 jobs through a combined investment of nearly £50 million – which includes £14m of taxpayers’ cash from the Local Enterprise Partnership.

McLaren Automotive and the University’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre will deliver a two-year research and development programme which will lead to the development of a production facility to build chassis for its new models, from 2020. It is hoped the investment will pump more than £100m into the local economy over the next 10 years.

The new McLaren Composites Technology Centre also has a target of making advances that ultimately save the company £10m - and create hundreds of jobs.

Coun Julie Dore, leader of Sheffield Council, said: “This is a tremendous achievement for Sheffield, its people and workforce, and its growing research and development sector. This combination of value-adding R&D investment and related production employment is the key to our future economic success.

“We can supply something unique here in Sheffield and Rotherham – a cutting-edge manufacturing base that links our two universities and leading businesses to create jobs and investment across Sheffield City Region.”

Sir Keith Burnett, vice chancellor of Sheffield University, said: “This is a big day for McLaren and for us.

“McLaren has a wonderful reputation for innovation, performance and design. But this region is also known around the world for the quality of its craftsmanship, for its superb research in engineering and for developing new materials, going back to the invention of stainless steel a century ago and now the high-performance composites which are so important to McLaren supercars.

“We at the University’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre have been working closely with McLaren on composites and light weighting in design and production for some time. The technologies we develop together help them be the best in the world.

“Which is why McLaren has decided to build its supercar chassis here in Sheffield City Region – bringing £100m boost to UK economy, creating jobs and apprenticeships for the talented young people of the Northern Powerhouse.”