McLaren starts making lightweight chassis in Sheffield 

More than half of the supercars' parts will now be sourced from the UK as the company reveals plans for electric vehicles

McLaren chief executive Mike Flewitt
McLaren chief executive Mike Flewitt

McLaren is bringing production home with the launch of a lightweight carbon-fibre “tubs” designed for its next generation of electric vehicles.

The supercar maker said the lightweight frames will be produced at its Sheffield factory, taking the value of UK-sourced parts in McLaren cars from about 50pc to almost 60pc.

The £50m McLaren Composites Technology Centre (MCTC) will produce the chassis around which the high-performance cars are constructed. They use advanced processes to strip out weight and mass while improving safety.

Before the centre became fully operational this year, the company imported the tubs from a company in Austria to its Woking factory. 

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge opening the MCTC in 2018

Reducing its cars’ weights is an obsession at McLaren as a way of improving performance and handling.

So-called “lightweighting” is also vital for designing electric vehicles, as their heavy batteries hold them back, meaning any weight savings that can be identified make them more efficient.

Mike Flewitt, chief executive of McLaren, said the new vehicle architecture will be “every bit as revolutionary as the ‘monocell’ chassis in our company’s first car, the 12c”.

He added that the composites facility, opened by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge two years ago, has become known as “a global centre of excellence in composite materials and manufacturing”.

McLaren has been hard hit by the economic downturn and said in May it was making 1,200 of its 4,000 staff redundant.