Tuesday, August 25, 2020

News: Made in Rotherham - the key to McLaren's electric future


McLaren Automotive has confirmed the introduction of the brand's all-new, flexible, lightweight vehicle architecture which will underpin its next generation of electrified supercars. And they will be made in Rotherham.

In 2019, Rothbiz reported that the first prototype carbon fibre "MonoCell," the tub that forms the main structure of McLaren's cars, had been shipped from the company's £50m innovation and production centre in Rotherham to the McLaren Production Centre (MPC) in Woking, Surrey.

The McLaren Composites Technology Centre (MCTC) was opened on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham in 2018 and Rotherham staff have been busy on new components, seen for the first time on the latest in a line of "Longtail" McLarens.

The firm has now confirmed that the new architecture, designed specifically to accommodate new hybrid powertrains, has been entirely engineered, developed and produced in-house in the UK at the 75,000 sq ft site.

The new flexible vehicle architecture utilises innovative, world-first processes and techniques to strip out excess mass, reduce overall vehicle weight, while also further improving safety attributes.

It will underpin the next generation of McLaren hybrid models as the supercar company enters its second decade of series vehicle production.

The first new McLaren hybrid supercar to be based on the all-new architecture will launch in 2021.

Mike Flewitt, chief executive officer at McLaren Automotive, said: "The new ground-breaking vehicle architecture is every bit as revolutionary as the MonoCell chassis we introduced with the company’s first car, the 12C, when we first embarked on making production vehicles a decade ago.

"This new, ultra-lightweight carbon fibre chassis boasts greater structural integrity and higher levels of quality than ever before with our new MCTC facility quickly becoming recognised as a global centre of excellence in composite materials science and manufacturing.

"Our advanced expertise in light weight composites processes and manufacturing combined with our experience in cutting-edge battery technology and high-performance hybrid propulsion systems means we are ideally placed to deliver to customers levels of electrified high-performance motoring that until now have simply been unattainable."

In 2018, the fastest growing luxury automotive brand in the UK revealed an updated and expanded £1.2bn business plan and upped its production targets to reach 6,000 mid-engined sportscars and supercars a year by 2025. The company set out a move towards 100% hybrid sportscars and supercars by 2024.

Flewitt added: "For us, light-weighting and electrification go hand-in-hand to achieve better performance as well as more efficient vehicles."

Visitors are unlikely to ever be allowed inside the Rotherham facility to see production but the process starts with the creation of hundreds of pieces of carbon fibre "cloth" - cut to specific sizes and laser-guided into place into "preforms." Infused with resin, the material is then moulded under immense force (the equivalent to 100 double decker buses) before being machined with extreme accuracy so that it can accept the mounting of the rest of the car parts during assembly in Woking.

Following a ramping up of recruitment at the MCTC in 2019, the firm announced redundancies in May as the business was impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic.

McLaren Automotive website

Images: McLaren Automotive


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