First customer McLarens move down the production line

McLaren Automotive said it had at last started production of its MP4-12C supercar for customer deliveries, at the McLaren Technology Centre (MTC) in Woking.

The MP4-12C is a lightweight, mid-engined two-seat high-performance sports car. Its components, such as its one-piece carbon-fibre chassis, are all bespoke to McLaren, as are the new technologies used to develop them.

Several of the cars were built last year as production prototypes or show cars – McLaren has been running road-shows internationally to promote the £150,000 vehicle – but none has yet gone to a customer. That should change soon, the company claimed, adding that it plans to build up to 1,000 12Cs in 2011.

McLaren, which describes itself as Britain’s newest sport car manufacturer, added that its £40m McLaren Production Centre (MPC) is on schedule for completion in May this year. Once this 32,000m² high-tech manufacturing facility has been commissioned, production of the sports car will move there; until then, cars continue to be built at the small production hall in the MTC, where the company built earlier cars such as the McLaren F1 (which listed for just under $1m, but now sells for much more) and the £300,000 Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR.

“The start of production is a significant milestone and confirms our intention to challenge convention at the highest levels of automotive design, from a high-tech facility that I am proud to say will deliver jobs, expertise and innovation in manufacturing and engineering,” declared Ron Dennis, McLaren Automotive's executive chairman.

Dennis said that the new factory would generate up to 300 jobs directly and support up to 800 in total, and will be manufacturing around 4,000 cars by the middle of this decade.

The MPC will also build the other high-performance sports cars which McLaren is developing for future launch. These reportedly include a car rather cheaper than the MP4-12C, intended to compete with the Porsche 911, and a significantly more expensive 'hypercar' occupying the F1's niche.

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