McLaren has officially opened its new Woking-based factory, where production of the new MP4-12C is already in progress with two cars per day reaching completion.
Prime Minister David Cameron attended the opening of the facility and spoke about how “we all want Britain to be a country where we’re respected again for what we make as well as the services and finance we provide, vital though they are. Why does all this matter? It’s not just the size of the economy that matters, it’s the shape. Less debt, less dependence on finance – the scale of potential demand in manufacturing is huge.”
The new £50m, 32,000 square-metre facility is attached to the Norman Foster designed McLaren Technology Centre and took 15 months to build. It is dominated by the sort of practical, precision design that McLaren is famous for; each work station is less than 1.6-metres high to allow for good visibility across the factory floor, racks of parts are arranged on floating shelves and the forklift trucks ride on white wheels to avoid marking the tiled floor.
At full capacity the factory will be able to produce one MP4-12C (which is mostly hand built but for the carbonfibre tub) every 45 minutes.
Commenting on the occasion, McLaren Automotive managing director Antony Sheriff stated that “this is probably the first time anyone has developed a production facility around the car. Over the coming years it will allow us to expand the company. We’re building around 1000 cars a year now and that will grow to 4000 within four years, adding at least 200 jobs just to build the cars. We will also be introducing new models, and entering new markets such as China, all of which will create a lot of investment on the engineering side as well.”
Throughout the event there was much emphasis on the need to encourage new talent into engineering, and the Prime Minister announced that in 2012 the government would employ a new funding scheme to encourage apprenticeships in companies such as McLaren, making the necessary financial backing more readily available. “We’re basically saying the money is there; establish your own schemes and we will fund you.”