Reaction: Trade Secretary welcomes announcement of McLaren move to Sheffield City Region

  • International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, welcomes ground-breaking the deal as a boost to the Northern Powerhouse.
  •  More than 200 new jobs in deal worth £100 million to the UK’s economy
  • McLaren announce move to facility next to University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) at launch event

Factory 2050

The UK Government has today (9 February 2017) hailed the announcement of automotive giant McLaren’s move to the Sheffield City Region as a major new draw of investment into the Northern Powerhouse.

The luxury sports car producer has announced the development of a new manufacturing facility next to the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in a deal set to produce 200 new jobs and a £100 million boost to the UK’s economy.

In a statement, International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, said: "McLaren is a prime example of the UK’s continued world-leading role in technology, design and innovation. Establishing their new Composites Technology Centre in Sheffield shows McLaren’s confidence in the UK as a world-leader in research that will support local business and high-skilled jobs while drawing international investment into the Northern Powerhouse.”

Developed with the support of Sheffield City Council, McLaren’s new Composites Technology Centre will be responsible for the development and manufacturing of advanced carbon fibre chassis for McLaren Automotive’s supercars.

Mike Flewett, Chief Executive Officer at McLaren AutomotiveAt the launch event today, Sir Nigel Knowles, Chair of Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, said: "This is a truly important day for McLaren, the University of Sheffield and the Sheffield City Region.

"McLaren has chosen to open a purpose-built production facility here in the UK. And it is no accident that they have chosen to do so next to the world-leading Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre of the University of Sheffield at the heart of our city region."

The announcement builds on the continued international success of the AMRC as an epicentre of regional and national economic impact, a large-scale innovation hub for some of the world’s most dynamic businesses and a source of life-changing apprenticeship opportunities for young people in industry.

The Composites Technology Centre represents a significant reshoring of the manufacturing of car chassis to the North of England – a key objective of Northern Powerhouse and Industrial Strategy policies.

McLaren Automotive and the University of Sheffield will deliver a two-year research and development programme, which will lead to the development of a production facility to build its lightweight carbon fibre chassis for its new models from 2020. The University of Sheffield’s AMRC Training Centre will also immediately start training McLaren apprentices who will work in the new facility.

Ian Hutchinson – the first McLaren apprentice at the University of Sheffield’s AMRC Training Centre

Speaking at the launch, Professor Sir Keith Burnett, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: “This city region and its local and national government partners are making an investment in the future of innovation which the UK urgently needs.

“We are looking ahead to other superb collaborations which help world-leading companies like McLaren have even greater success.

“And along the way we will be transforming a region, creating opportunity, jobs and skills for our young people."

The University’s ongoing investments in facilities and developing capabilities had been a catalyst to attract McLaren. These investments had further enabled the AMRC’s Composite Centre to push the boundaries of manufacturing capabilities across all market sectors.

Mike Flewitt, Chief Executive Officer at McLaren Automotive, said: "Why Sheffield? Because of the local expertise and experience of working with new materials and advanced composites, plus the development facilities offered by the University of Sheffield and their AMRC facility. With other high-tech organisations, such a Boeing, Airbus, GKN and Rolls Royce plc alongside us at the AMRC, we are in very good company.”

The new McLaren Automotive facility is due to start construction in early 2017 with the first pre-production carbon fibre chassis, built using trial manufacturing processes in the AMRC, expected to be delivered to the McLaren Technology Centre in the second half of 2017. Full production at the facility will begin by 2020.

Additional information

The AMRC and the McLaren Composites Technology Centre

The AMRC was established in 2001 as a £15 million collaboration between the University of Sheffield and aerospace giant Boeing with the purpose of using Sheffield’s traditional expertise in materials and machining, and applying those skills for future technological development.

In 2004, the AMRC moved into the purpose-built Advanced Manufacturing Park in Sheffield and, in 2008, opened the Rolls-Royce plc Factory of the Future. In 2012, the Factory of the Future expanded to include an enlarged Composite Centre.

In 2015, the AMRCs Factory 2050 was opened as the UK’s first fully reconfigurable assembly and component manufacturing facility for collaborative research, capable of rapidly switching between different high-value components and one-off parts. The 7,000 sq m building is home to the AMRC’s Integrated Manufacturing Group with open-plan desk space integrated with high-tech assembly and manufacturing – much like the existing McLaren Production Centre in Woking, Surrey. The new McLaren Composites Technology Centre will be sited near to the AMRC campus.

The McLaren Composites Technology Centre will be housed in a 7,000m² building set over four acres and will be responsible for the research and development of future Monocell and Monocage carbon fibre chassis as well as the manufacturing of the chassis itself. The 200 new employees will comprise approximately 150 production staff and 50 manufacturing support staff.

McLaren – pioneering in carbon fibre and composites technology
For more than 30 years, McLaren has pioneered the use of carbon fibre in vehicle production. The McLaren MP4/1 was the first car on the Formula One™ grid to feature a carbon fibre chassis. Compared to the aluminium structures of the time, carbon fibre was lighter but stronger and therefore faster but safer. By the following season, most competitors had adopted this new material in the construction of their cars, and it continues as the prevalent construction material today. And on the road, the now-iconic McLaren F1 from 1993 was the first road car ever to be built with a carbon fibre chassis. This car still holds the world record for the fastest naturally-aspired road car.

Since 1981, McLaren has not built a car without a carbon fibre chassis.

The University of Sheffield

With almost 27,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.
A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2016 and was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education in 2014. In the last decade it has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.


For further information, please contact:

Shemina Davis
Media Relations Manager
The University of Sheffield
0114 222 5339