British Prime Minister David Cameron was among the guests this morning at McLaren. The PM was given a tour of the new McLaren Production Centre (MPC) with executive chairman Ron Dennis and F1 drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.
“Thank you for inviting me. It is incredibly inspiring,” the Prime Minister said. “I’ve been to a few car factories in my time but I have never been to anything like this. Formula 1 is an incredible British success story. It is not just McLaren. When Michael Schumacher races it is in a car built in Britain. Perhaps that is a point I will make to Chancellor Merkel tomorrow to break the ice!”
Cameron had previously been to the Science Museum to launch the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, which will be awarded every two years for a “groundbreaking advance in engineering which has led to significant international public benefit”. The prize will be worth $1.5 million.
The Royal Academy of Engineering will decide on the winner, with a charitable trust being run by former BP chief executive Lord John Browne and funded by British firms including defence giant BAE Systems, Shell and GlaxoSmithKline.
At McLaren the Prime Minister announced a new scheme which will see businesses bidding for cash to fund apprenticeships, giving companies the power to design, develop and buy the vocational training programme that most suits their needs. The initial fund will be $75 million in 2012, rising to $300 million in the second year, if there are sufficient high-quality schemes.
He praised McLaren for its efforts to help rebuilding fading British manufacturing.
Dennis took the opportunity to reveal that McLaren has already pre-sold 2,000 McLaren MP4-12C road cars.
McLaren used the event to spread the word about its different areas of expertise with a small group of media, mainly from the business world, plus partners and other interested parties.
Jonathan Neale, the MD of McLaren Racing, revealed that the 2012 F1 car will have just a six percent carry over of parts from this year’s MP4-26.
Peter Van Manen revealed that McLaren Electronics has just won the contract to supply common ECUs for the new engine formula in F1 from 2014. McLaren also supplies the new ECUs which will be introduced in NASCAR next year. McLaren also supplies ECUs in IndyCar racing. Van Manen also revealed that McLaren has recently developed software for the aviation business in the United States. The company is also putting software into the train systems in San Francisco and hopes to expand the real-time tracking capability on to the global market.
Geoff McGrath, the MD of McLaren Applied Technologies, said that McLaren is expanding from sports such as sailing, cycling and bob-sleighs, into new areas and has become “a beacon of innovation”. McGrath also talked about McLaren’s involvement in streamlining airport operations using software to manage air traffic in the ground and thus improving efficiency in the industry and reduce emissions.
McGrath also talked about the potential of monitoring health from afar. This is known as “remote condition monitoring” which keeps an eye on the patient from a distance and provides instant feedback with “human telemetry”.