British supercar maker McLaren is known for its extensive use of advanced lightweight materials in its vehicles and is now looking to take its technology to the next level, as well as some of its neighbors too.
The company has invested more than $63.2 million, or £50 million, into its new McLaren Composites Technology Centre in Yorkshire, England, to grow its expertise and production of advanced composites to make its cars lighter and faster. The new center will add 200 new jobs by the time it reaches full production next year.
“As we’re working with advanced, lightweight materials in new ways that have never been used before on this scale for car production, McLaren is looking for a range of skills you wouldn’t normally associate with the automotive industry,” said Mike Flewitt, chief executive officer, McLaren Automotive.
Lighter, composite materials, together with future powertrain technology, will save vehicle weight, boost performance and provide more energy-efficient supercars, the company notes. McLaren has been a pioneer with ultra-lightweight, ultra-strong carbon fiber material and builds every car with a carbon fiber chassis, or “tub,” at its core.
The company is looking for new employees from a variety of fields to fill the new jobs coming online at the new site in northern England.
Applicants with experience in a wide variety of sectors from boat building to the textiles trade and sporting goods industries are being encouraged to apply for the next wave of jobs, apprenticeships and some degree apprenticeships.
“We’re also looking to hire apprentices and degree apprentices,” Flewitt said.
“The advanced technologies and processes they will be working on could one day be used in other industries to produce lighter, and therefore more efficient, vehicles which will not only help McLaren to continue to innovate, but the UK to become a global leader in composite materials expertise.”
Those skills are required because materials like carbon fiber start life as a fabric that has to be cut, put into molds before being treated through a variety of processes before becoming a hard material.
The new roles that are set to be phased in next year will all help to make the next generation of McLaren carbon fiber tubs that will then be sent to the company’s McLaren Production Centre, around 170 miles away in Woking, Surrey.
Once there, the cars will get all of the other equipment that makes them a McLaren: powertrain, gearbox, body panels, electrical systems, wheels and Pirelli tires. Of course, they’ll be added by hand before being exported to over 32 territories around the world.
The new facility received some important visitors as it was officially opened by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Catharine, and HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Bahrain.