A record £15 million (almost $24 million USD) order for supercar composite body structures and trim is going into production at Prodrive Composites (Milton Keynes, Oxfordshire, U.K.). In the biggest composites supply contract in its history, the company is supplying most of the composite components for a new supercar now entering production with one of the world’s most prestigious vehicle manufacturers. To support this, and other recent orders, Prodrive has recruited and is training another 40 production technicians, a move that up the total number of employees at its composite facility in Milton Keynes to 160.
“The combination of component complexity, size and finish means there are only a handful of companies globally that could deliver the high-precision and superb surface finish required by this highly-demanding vehicle manufacturer,” explained Prodrive Composites managing director, Dominic Cartwright. “Our long term relationship with this customer and successful track record of high component quality, technical support and reliable delivery timing on previous programmes led to our selection as a key technology partner.”
The most complex component in the new contract is the front body assembly, which integrates the parts from 16 separate pieces of tooling into a single structure. The greatest challenge for component finish is on the interior parts, which use a uniquely tactile surface that required a considerable development program (leading to a new, proprietary technology) and is a first for a production vehicle interior.
Continual innovation by Prodrive in new molding processes, combined with the company’s proven high quality and expertise in design and analysis, has reportedly led to a strong and sustained growth in its composites business. Prodrive has doubled its manufacturing capacity during the past couple of years, and expansion continues with the new contract.
In the enlarged composites facility, craft skills co-exist with rigorous processes to allow Prodrive to deliver the same high quality standards by the most cost-effective route, whether in motorsport quantities or for OE automotive applications. Cartwright sees great value in this arrangement.
“Producing premium components for supercars in volumes of a few hundred alongside higher volume programmes leads to valuable cross-fertilisation of techniques and know-how, and not always in the direction you might expect,” he said. “In this example, the main body-in-white structure is built from panels using materials developed for series production performance cars. The sheer diversity of our manufacturing, coupled with our in-house design expertise, gives us exceptionally wide visibility of the choices available, helping us to provide the optimum solution for each customer.”
Prodrive Composites is a part of the Prodrive group of businesses. It is based in central Milton Keynes in a 32,000 ft2 manufacturing facility. It it works in the automotive, aerospace, defence and motorsport sectors.
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