McLaren now has a second production facility, the McLaren Composites Technology Center (MCTC), based in Yorkshire, England. The facility cost 50 million pounds (about $65 million USD) to build and is expected to add 100 million pounds to the local economy. Once fully staffed, the MCTC is expected to be home to 200 workers.
The opening ceremony was no small affair, with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Crown Prince of Bahrain, Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, on hand. For McLaren, the facility certainly represents a major investment. The facility also hints at McLaren’s future.
The MCTC has been set up specifically to explore innovative carbon fiber and composite materials. Many high end automobile manufacturers are moving past steel and other metals. Not only is metal prone to rusting, it’s also heavy and while it’s strong, there are stronger materials out there.
Carbon fiber is emerging as a popular alternative for hypercar manufacturers. Carbon fiber materials are often as strong, if not stronger than steel and other metals. At the same time, carbon fiber is generally much lighter. At the MCTC, researchers will be working on lightweight carbon fiber tubs that McLaren hopes to soon use in their cars.
For hypercar manufacturers, reducing weight can lead to faster speeds and better handling. While such materials aren’t cheap, increased research may yield lower costs. The hypercars of the future are likely to increasingly eschew metals in favor of carbon fiber and other compositions. The MCTC highlights the growing interest in researching alternative materials.