The first prototype carbon fibre MonoCell, the tub that forms the main structure of McLaren’s cars, has been shipped from the company’s new £50m innovation and production centre in Rotherham to the McLaren Production Centre (MPC) in Woking, Surrey.
Codenamed ‘PLT-MCTC – 01’ – which stands for ‘Prototype Lightweight Tub, McLaren Composites Technology Centre – 01’ – the tub completed its 175-mile journey to the British sportscars and supercar maker’s global headquarters from the McLaren Composites Technology Centre (MCTC). There it will be involved with stringent crash testing duties.
The MCTC was opened on the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham last year by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge alongside HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince of Bahrain, as part of McLaren’s ambitious plans to increase the rate of innovation of its famous lightweight carbon fibre chassis that are at the heart of all its cars.
This will help the firm’s designers and engineers to find further weight savings as the company develops its next generation of vehicles as part of its ambitious Track25 business plan.
McLaren aims to win the automotive race to lightweight which will become ever more important as cars move towards hybrid powertrains which are generally heavier than their traditional petrol counterparts. All McLaren’s sportscars and supercars will be hybrid by 2024.
The MCTC currently employs around 60 people which will rise to over 200 when full production commences in 2020.
Carbon fibre has long been part of McLaren’s DNA, the company having first introduced the material into Formula 1 in the early 1980s. Given the material’s lightweight and strength characteristics, it hasn’t produced a road car without it since.
Wes Jacklin, Plant Director, MCTC, McLaren Automotive said:
“The delivery of the first prototype carbon fibre tub by the new MCTC to McLaren HQ is not only an exciting day for everyone who has directly worked on the project but also a significant milestone for McLaren Automotive’s ambition to be world-beaters in lightweight and composites technology which goes hand-in-hand with our move to hybrid powertrains as part of our Track25 business plan.
“We never innovate for the sake of it; we innovate to continually fulfil our promise to create iconic sportscars. It’s increasingly clear that with future heavier powertrain requirements, exploiting innovative lightweighting techniques and technologies is going to be a significant key to unlocking all the handling and agility characteristics that our customers demand.”