The first production Connaught sports cars will roll off a brand-new production line later this year, following today’s announcement (29 March) of a new factory, R&D centre and HQ in Wales, the first car assembly plant in the country for over 30 years.
Up to £12m is being invested to get the 300bhp supercharged Type-D and its 162bhp hybrid-powered variant into production with ambitious plans to make up to 1000 cars a year by 2012.
“We’ve been working hard towards this moment for several years and are very proud to be starting production in Wales,” said Tony Martindale, Connaught’s joint founder.
Martindale and fellow ex-Jag staffer Tim Bishop launched Connaught in 2002 with their own money, developing the alloy and composite-bodied Type-D and its narrow angle V10 from scratch.
They have now been joined by several “high net-worth individuals” as co-investors who are together providing £8.5m to turn Connaught into a fully-fledged car company. A further grant of £3.5m from the Welsh Assembly completes the business package.
A 60,000sq ft site with factory, offices, R&D and design will be built in Llanelli, West Wales for completion in 2009 and the roll-out of the first left-hand-drive cars.
In the meantime Connaught will move into spare factory space at a nearby Thyssen-Krupp factory, where the first right-hand-drive cars will be built this year.
Connaught will concentrate on final assembly and engine production. Fully-painted bodies will be built on the continent by a major coach-builder and trucked to Wales for final assembly. Martindale hopes to name this major supplier to Connaught next week.
Blocks for the V10 will come from a foundry near Llanelli, as will many components.
So far the company has hand-built five prototypes at a site in Coventry. “But we knew that to get consistency of build quality we needed a proper, mechanised production line,” said Martindale.
Future plans include a four-door super-saloon “in the mould of an Aston Martin or Bentley ” says Martindale. And a V12 version of the V10 has already been designed to power this model, planned for production around 2012/2103.
That date is also set for a launch in North America. “There’s a huge potential market over there. And the Type-D and the V10 have been engineered with US sales in mind,” said Martindale.