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McLaren's in-house carbon fiber 'Monocell' heads to crash testing

It will eventually underpin a new generation of lighter, greener supercars.


McLaren has been using carbon-fiber monocoques for its supercars for years now, but manufacturing them has fallen to a subcontractor in Austria. Now, McLaren's bringing that work in-house, and its first prototype is ready for testing.

McLaren announced on Friday that it has completed the first Monocell carbon-fiber tub prototype at its new McLaren Composites Technology Center in Sheffield, England. The Monocell has been shipped to the McLaren Production Center in Woking, where it will undergo crash testing.

The automaker built this £50 million (about $66 million) facility in order to speed up development of the supercars that will eventually utilize the new Monocell tub. It currently employs about 60 people, but once it's running at full steam in 2020, it should have more than 200 people working under its roof.

The monocoque will eventually go on to underpin a new generation of lighter, more efficient McLarens, including hybrids, keeping in line with the company's Track25 business plan that will guide the automaker through 2025. This includes a complete electrification of McLaren's lineup, focusing on traditional hybrids, which should happen by 2024. The first vehicle to utilize the new Monocell should make its appearance in 2020, according to Autocar.

"The delivery of the first prototype carbon fiber tub by the new MCTC to McLaren HQ is not only an exciting day for everyone who has directly worked on the project but also a significant milestone for McLaren Automotive's ambition to be world-beaters in lightweight and composites technology," said Wes Jacklin, MCTC's plant director, in a statement.