McLaren Automotive Ltd. is shifting chassis production to the U.K. from Austria in a move that will reduce the British supercar maker’s exposure to potential tariffs after Brexit.
McLaren is building a plant in Sheffield, England to make lightweight carbon-fiber bodies for cars like the $1.4 million P1. The 50 million-pound (US$63 million) factory will start operation in late 2019 and will eventually replace a supplier from Austria.
While the automaker’s decision to shift production was made before Britons voted to leave the European Union in June, the move will boost the percentage of British-made parts in McLarens and comes as manufacturers prepare to minimize taxes that may be due on imported parts. European components currently account for about half of the value of McLaren’s cars, and the niche manufacturer is lobbying politicians to reduce restrictions as much as possible, Chief Executive Officer Mike Flewitt said Thursday.
“My request continually with the politicians is no tariffs, no trade barriers,” he said at an event in Sheffield. “For God’s sake, this is a modern world.”
McLaren, which isn’t part of a larger automotive group like rivals Aston Martin and Ferrari, has been ramping up production and expects to build 4,000 vehicles this year. The British marque plans to introduce 22 new models or variants in the next five years as it seeks to secure its independence. Flewitt once again dismissed speculation about a deal with Apple Inc., which last year had reportedly considered a bid for part of McLaren.
“We have met and spoken. They are interested in our cars and what we’re doing,” Flewitt said. However, “we have no plans, no conversations, no intentions.”
Bodies built in Sheffield will be lighter, stronger and more environmentally friendly than ones used now. The components will be used across its range of cars from the 150,000-pound 570S to the exclusive P1, the company said.
by Benjamin Katz