TVR has signed a deal with the Welsh government to set up its new manufacturing plant in Wales.
The new facility is scheduled to open in 2018. Confirmed in a speech by Welsh first minister Carwyn Jones today, it will be sited next to the new Circuit of Wales, with construction starting next month, at Ebbw Vale, Blaenau Gwent, 25 miles north of Newport.
The British sports car company, formerly based in Blackpool, was bought from Russian ownership in 2013 and is being brought back to life by a consortium of wealthy enthusiasts led by computer games magnate Les Edgar. The plan is to establish a new range of cars, very much in the mould of those that went out of production in Blackpool in 2006.
Edgar has always said the new TVR company — whose every move is being monitored by a remarkably loyal enthusiast body — would need easy access to a racing circuit if it is to build and test the pure, high-performance British sports cars it had in mind.
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The Circuit of Wales, understood to be on the point of signing a £300 million deal with the Aviva insurance group for financial backing, will have an associated technology park intended to house firms like TVR and key suppliers. The TVR project represents an investment of £30 million over the next five years, and will create 150 jobs in the local area.
TVR’s owners are understood to be assessing two sites: a greenfield location beside the circuit that would need an all-new factory, and an existing building nearby. To meet its scheduled plan of selling its first cars next year, the company will need to make a decision very soon. TVR has confirmed the exact location of the new site will be announced in a few weeks time.
Edgar said today's announcement was "a fantastic opportunity both for TVR and the Welsh Government. South Wales is becoming a major hub for automotive and motorsport technology and development and the area is a serious opportunity for business development and job creation. We have a sports car project that has garnered global approval and excitement, and we are delighted that the Welsh government wish to become a part of an exciting new era for TVR."
The first minister said: "This is yet another fantastic high profile investment for Wales and a great boost for our automotive sector. TVR is another iconic and much loved, world-class brand that still commands a strong and loyal international following. I am delighted the next generation of TVRs will proudly bear the label Made in Wales.”
First minister Jones also noted that TVR is the second car maker to confirm new infrastructure in Wales, just a few weeks after Aston Martin confirmed that its new DBX crossover would be built in the country.
Economy minister Edwina Hart added: "TVR is a very welcome addition to the thriving, dynamic sector in Wales where there are more than 150 companies involved in the automotive supply chain, employing around 18,000 people and generating over £3billion to the Welsh economy."
The new TVR sports car
The company says it already has more than 350 deposits of £5000 for the launch edition version of the new car - outstripping the planned first year production run of 250 units. Edgar says the current number of orders will keep TVR's new factory busy until the end of 2018. Peak production is set to be reached in 2022, with TVR hoping to produce around 2000 cars annually.
In a statement today, TVR said the new car "features innovative design and styling that maintains the distinctive TVR DNA, but also incides F1-inspired, ground-effect technology."
TVR will be the first company in the world to adopt former Formula 1 designer Gordon Murray’s revolutionary iStream manufacturing process, which simplifies the build process and lowers the investment needed to make modern, crashworthy cars, while delivering first-class rigidity and light weight.
For TVR, a process called iStream Carbon has been devised. This replaces lower-cost composites with lighter carbonfibre to enhance the stiffness of already impressive iStream designs.
Speaking exclusively to Autocar this week, Murray said TVR’s iStream manufacturing process had already been designed and specified, but the factory would take “at least a year” to reach full production.
After the launch of the new sports car, TVR has said it wants to bring four new models to market over the next 10 years.