News : McLaren Production centre opens

Keith Adams

Surgically clean McLaren production centre is a sight to behold.
Surgically clean McLaren production centre is a sight to behold.

For anyone who’s in any doubt that the UK remains at the absolute pinnacle of automotive engineering, here’s a glimpse into McLaren’s new production centre. The McLaren MP4-12C might have been on sale for a little while now, but the Ricardo powered supercar’s production site has only just been opened to the public – with Prime Minister David Cameron joining Ron Dennis, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton at the opening ceremony.

The cutting edge assembly site is also responsible for the McLaren F1 team’s activities as well as those for IndyCar, NASCAR, aeroplane engines and the BMW-redesigned BART subway system in San Francisco. The company’s press statement was suitably upbeat about its future plans: ”Today’s visit to McLaren by Prime Minister the Rt Hon David Cameron MP is a statement of intent: that we’re committed to building a homegrown sports car manufacturer to take on the likes of Europe’s and North America’s giants. But that’s not all.

‘Through everything we do, we’re absolutely dedicated to fostering the rebirth of one of Great Britain’s industrial cornerstones: beautiful and meticulously crafted high-tech industrial design and manufacture. Design and manufacturing have been at the backbone of British industry for more than 100 years, and are activities that we as a company not only passionately believe in, but consider of primary importance to the future economic growth and recovery of the United Kingdom.’

Ron Dennis added, ‘In the UK, there has been an over-reliance in the past on the financial and service sectors. Now, industry is realising that Britain’s grand manufacturing tradition is a solid platform upon which to build – and I want the McLaren Group to play its part in the crucial recalibration of UK plc.’

But for us, the factory itself should take centre-stage – enjoy the video showing off its finest assets.



Keith Adams


  1. The BBC screened a fabulous hour long special on this the other week, part of the open university programming. Well worth a look!

  2. Wow, what with this, JLR’s new engine plant set for Wolverhampton, JLR Solihull taking on 1000 employees, I understand that Toyota, Derby have just announced 1500 recruitments too. Furthermore, still on manufacturing, I believe Nestle (much that I hate them*) are taking on 300 staff at a coffee plant in the UK.

    *Remember Rowntree Mackintosh?

  3. An average programme that over simplified things (read dumbing down) however it did prove that the car industry is still alive and kicking and strides are being taken to move things forward. Toyota are now increasing their exports to Japan by providing the UK plant with 1500 jobs and I believe that, provided economic/regulatory conditions continue to work in it’s favour, jobs should be sustainable in the long term, say 10-15. So the future is certain very very positive. The only issue facing the UK is one of an education and apprenticeship vacuum but we won’t know the results of any changes for the next 5 years. This not only applies to the car industry but all sectors that supply it. I hope this will be addressed soon. Britain is open for business peeps!

  4. ^^ oh yes, and the MIRA upgrades and the Warwick Uni technology hubs need to come online sharpish to, it was one of the concerns that Jaguar’s CEO brought up.. There is no technology base as there is in Europe but this is soon to be rectified.

  5. Do they make on-off knobs for gas fires too? I’ve tried to order one for my “British ” made fire and it cant be sent out because they are stocktaking! Just goes to show how third world we’ve become. At least This Mclaren story gives us some hope.

  6. not quite sure what that’s got to do with manufacturing in the UK. It seems we make far more than many can imagine in terms of value but it’s just that it takes far less people to do it. We lead the world in armaments and pharmaceuticals, have an aviation industry that’s the second biggest in the world, we make a very large selection of satellite technology- which happens to be some of the best in the world We manufacture high end luxury goods which even go for export to, ironically, China. Don’t confuse the volume of what we make with the value. And quality control is far greater now than it’s ever been in a properly run business.. GKN for example make thousands of parts per worker as oppsed to a couple of hundred – and dud parts are no longer measured in parts per 1000, it’s now in parts per million – and that’s into decimal figures too! Third world we are not… Can’t comment on individual companies but in general, R&D, manufacturing and no engineering (the top end stuff certainly) is going through a renaissance after being neglected for so long under the last government.

  7. @Ross A… I was just venting my irritation and by chance both stories co-incided. I stand by my belief that Industry & manufacturing are considered to be lower in the order of importance in this country.

    The Government are just realising that and trying to do something about it. Shame – as in the same week, the closure of an Aluminium smelter in Northumberland was announced, shedding 500+ jobs. Sorry to detract from the subject of this story and I do wish Mclaren well. Their facility looks mighty impressive!

  8. How many McLaren’s are they expecting to sell a year, surely there are a years worth of models in that shot alone!?

  9. “have an aviation industry that’s the second biggest in the world”

    Although it doesn’t show so much as we don’t make complete aircraft. Just components, Wings for Airbus for example, most Rolls-Royce engines, wiring, fuel systems etc etc. Just not complete aircraft sadly.

    Something i discovered a few months ago, most fuel and brake lines for BMW are made at a factory in Kent.

  10. Wonderful footage, but not a sign of any manufacture, “just” an assembly area! And why, oh why, do we not promote our goods in this country?? In the late sixties there was the “I’m backing Britain” campaign, but nowadays it seems generally thought that we manufacture nothing. It is all a case of drumming into our school age people that our Country is something to be proud of, and has always had a huge capacity to design and produce innovative designs. At the moment, the general impression given to our young people is that the future is only in working in retail or service areas, and that design or manufacture are alien concepts. Having parents, and possibly grandparents, who have not ever had jobs is the big negative which needs to be addressed. If I were manufacturing anything in this Country, I would ensure the Union flag, and “made in England(UK??)” was prominent on the item and packaging. We have long passed the 70’s and 80’s era where doing this was seen as a bad joke!

  11. @Dennis.. Wings, undercarriage, some avionics, radar guidance systems, turbofan engines (considered the best in the world as both Airbus and Boeing are using RR- a lot), interiors including seating and upholstery, weapons systems etc etc.. I go on and on.. Simply we don’t do as much as the Americans in this area but this country still punches well above its weight (although we could have been launching space rockets and building advanced tilting trains and supercomputers if we’d had the foresight back in the day but that’s another story). The dedication of the men and women within these industries astounds me. And whilst less people are needed to do this work, those that do are the at the top of their game no matter which area they work in, from assembly to R&D. That’s why it’s important to get the country educated either academically or vocationally to allow everyone onto that level playing field and help push engineering, science and technology forward in this country, not just in automotive but in all sectors that require this.

  12. “@Dennis.. Wings, undercarriage, some avionics, radar guidance systems, turbofan engines (considered the best in the world as both Airbus and Boeing are using RR- a lot), interiors including seating and upholstery, weapons systems etc etc.. I go on and on.. Simply we don’t do as much as the Americans in this area but this country still punches well above its weight”

    I wasn’t disagreeing. As i said we make a lot of components but not complete aircraft. Which is why it doesn’t show publicly just how much we do make. I mean while it’s great being able to point to a complete A380 wing or an engine being wheeled out of a hanger, it’s no where near as sexy as seeing a complete aircraft being tugged out and then taking off.

    It’s a lot like car components. Ford at Dagenham is a good example, it’s Ford’s worldwide centre of excellence for Diesel engines. And they make a very large portion of Ford/PSA’s diesel engines which are supplied to other manufacturers too. But the fact is plain curtain sided trailers being dragged out the gate looks no where near as good to the general public as transporters full of freshly built cars. Which is why it’s hard for people to see our nations manufacturing output. A car for example may well have a plate on it saying “Assembled in the UK”, however no one is going to print that on brake pipes and even if they did who is going to crawl under a BMW to look?

  13. but Dennis, one could blame the mis-management of companies, the arrogance of the Unions in the 70’s, and the punitive taxes that led to poor investment, and some could say we only have ourselves to blame. But these days, these projects are far too big for one small state to do on it’s own. I mean, the Airbus A380 rolls out of the hanger, but pretty much everything is already built before it gets there. I mean, to install all the major sections takes a little over 1 hour before the fit-out. And even then you have workers from most parts of the EEA, including Brits, working on it. America can do this easily because it is such a huge country that can draw upon a huge wealth of resources. We are one pretty small-moderate sized country that couldn’t hope to build ultra complex wide bodies anymore.

    We don’t build supercomputers but ARM are the most dominant company in portable component CPUs – in the world. And they don’t even make anything.

    So we don’t make the final products nearly as much but I’m optimistic that a push for good education and skills will mean we could supply many, many more people to facilitate a good ‘high-end’ manufacturing base that could reach a level where France and Germany are at. The trick here is to become the best at what we do now and keep on running because other nations will catch up… Education is absolutely key.

  14. ” I mean, the Airbus A380 rolls out of the hanger, but pretty much everything is already built before it gets there.”

    That’s true, they’re ‘assembled’ in Toulouse i think, however it’s still easier for someone travelling on the plane to see the thing was ‘assembled’ in France, because a plane is a big tangible prestige item. It’s difficult to get across all the components they don’t see, like the wiring running under their feet. So although an airbus has bits made all over europe France still get’s the prestige of assembling them. Take Concorde though, most people here think of it as a British icon, most people in France think of it as French, the reality is it was both. They were assembled in Both countries.

    Powered by Rolls-Royce is a nice logo to have on the engine cowlings though.

    Few car plants actually build cars from Scratch anymore, they just assemble them, i would imagine there is a fair bit of foreign Content in any British assembled car. Most people would look at a Jaguar and say it’s a British car, few would think to say the leather in the seats comes from German cows. Few people will look at a Mercedes and say the windows are made in the UK.

    “Education is absolutely key”
    I agree, not just at secondary school level. Trouble is now, if one wants to take say an engineering or Mathematics degree in the UK it could cost £9000 per year, in France it costs you 500euro per year! Now regardless of whether an employer or an individual funds their education, which country do you think is more likely to get more engineering graduates?

  15. oops missed a bit…

    …. another problem is inspiring the next generation of engineers at an early age. Showing a whole aircraft or car and saying “that wasn’t made here, but the wings were” is nothing like as inspiring as showing a bunch of kids a whole plane being wheeled out.

  16. Can’t help wondering why more undergraduates don’t put two fingers up to money grabbing dumbed down UK universities and go overseas – if it was 1977 again I’d be having a long hard look at colleges in Canada or New Zealand.

    Good news at Toyota UK – well made products but, IMO, currently disappointingly underwhelming in appeal.

  17. “Education is absolutely key”

    Except that kids now see karaoke singing or footballing as easy paths to success, and are no longer willing to study engineering or science subjects. Why should they when the German-funded media mocks output from the UK anyway? (hence why MGR went under)

    I agree that it is nice to see finished products being shipped out. Belfast used to have finished DeLorean cars being transported through the residential Lisburn Road, ships leaving the shipyard, it gave great industrial pride.

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