McLaren had the official unveil of its new production facility yesterday. I was among the group of journalists that got the tour and you can read more about it and the PM’s unexpected visit in the news story.
I’ve never been to the Norman Foster-designed McLaren Technology Centre before, and the new factory is as painfully clinical as you would expect. It’s a quite extraordinary feat to keep a car factory as pristine as the new Woking facility is and it’s very obvious on first impressions alone why McLaren is such a desirable place to work.
PM Cameron with McLaren's Ron Dennis
But while the efficiency and overall detail of the whole centre was weirdly inspiring, what impressed me more was the breadth and extent of the industries McLaren is involved in.
I’ve always been aware of the UK’s big Formula One presence and the ever-growing and vital car manufacturing that takes place here, but I was not aware of the number of other pies that McLaren has a squeaky clean finger in.
The Woking-based company has collaborated with the National Air Traffic Services to improve air traffic efficiency on the ground at big airports, it provides telemetry and data management to a number of Olympic and football teams, and is pioneering human telemetry for everyday medical advancement and wellness. And that’s just the Applied Technologies branch.
The Electronic Systems business provides all the electrics for the entire F1 grid, Nascar and Indycar racing, supplies ECUs for piston-engine aircraft units, data and video systems for San Francisco’s railway system, and is also involved in providing telemetry systems for use in acute paediatric care.
Things are only going to get more varied as time progresses – particularly as there are plans for another new building of a similar size to the McLaren HQ for McLaren Applied Technologies alone.
And then, though this isn’t exclusive to McLaren, you can consider all the areas that have benefited from the use of Formula One-developed materials, which range from the armed forces to aerospace.
I’ve been a big fan of McLaren as a corporate entity ever since I got involved in the automotive industry. But hearing about all the different arms of the company that are flourishing and positively affecting other industries, you can’t help but feel proud of the rather British and clearly very successful attitude of the company.
'If we can’t be world class at it, then we won’t do it,' seems to be the motto.
British industry is riding through uncertain times at the moment, but I reckon with that motto in mind we can’t go far wrong.