THE Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have officially opened McLaren Automotive's new Â£50 million production facility in Yorkshire, set in four acres on a former open cast coal mine.
When in full production the site at Catcliffe, between Sheffield and Rotherham, will build the lightweight carbon fibre tubs that form the basis of McLaren's 200mph supercars.
The Royal couple were accompanied by the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Bahrain and they jointly unveiled a carbon fibre plaque at the ceremony held at the McLaren Composites Technology Centre (MCTC).
The centre aims to be a world-leader in innovating lightweight carbon fibre and composites that will work together with future powertrain development to save weight and produce greater energy efficiencies.
Prototyping has already begun on innovating McLaren's next generation of lightweight carbon fibre tubs that are integral to the agility and performance of its sport scars and supercars.
First announced in February 2017, construction began five months later and following six months of fit-out, the MCTC is now the company's first purpose-built facility outside of the current McLaren campus in Surrey.
McLaren says its ability to tap into the Sheffield region's extensive materials expertise, skills and university resources will help it to continue to innovate quickly and launch 18 new models or derivatives that are the lightest in their class.
The in-sourcing of the manufacture of the carbon fibre chassis also increases the average percentage by value of a McLaren car sourced in the UK by around eight per cent from its current average of around 50 per cent, depending on model.
Carbon fibre has long been a part of McLaren's DNA, the company having introduced the very first carbon fibre chassis into Formula 1 in 1981. Carbon fibre's innate strength and lightweight properties mean that the company has never made a race car, sport scar or supercar without it since.
After completing trial tubs in 2019 and once fully operational in 2020, the MCTC will create over 200 direct jobs and produce carbon fibre tubs that will be sent to the McLaren Production Centre in Woking for hand assembly into cars, over 90 per cent of which are then exported to markets worldwide.