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Mystery £15 million order for carbon fibre composite body assemblies get rumours buzzing

ProDrive : 17 October, 2013  (Application Story)
A record £15m order for supercar composite body structures and trim is going into production at Prodrive. In the biggest composites 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.
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 programme (leading to a new, proprietary technology) and is a first for a production vehicle interior.
Continual innovation by Prodrive in new moulding processes, combined with the company’s expertise in design and analysis, has led to a strong and sustained growth in its composites business. Having doubled manufacturing capacity during the last couple of years, expansion continues with the new contract, taking the total number of employees at its composite facility in Milton Keynes to 160.
In the enlarged composites facility, craft skills co-exist with rigorous processes. Managing Director Cartwright sees great value in this arrangement. “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. 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. In this example, the main Body-in-White structure is built from panels using materials developed for series production performance cars."
Which Car Company is ProDrive working with?
The announcement of this order for “a new supercar now entering production with one of the world’s most prestigious vehicle manufacturers” has intrigued petrolheads. Great news, say said enthusiasts… but whose car is it?
The firm is not saying. So the motoring world is speculating. Is it a new Aston Martin supercar, that’s come about because Prodrive founder David Richards also has a stake in the sports car brand just 20 minutes up the M40? Has Prodrive done a spectacular deal with Ferrari? Or Mercedes-AMG? Or BMW?
Favourite is the Aston Martin. World Car Fans Forum cites reports from Automotive World that Aston Martin has switched to a UK-based supplier for a new supercar. though the Forum has heard no rumours about a One-77 successor, Automobile says the One-77 had exposed carbon fibre in the cabin so Prodrive's hint that "the greatest challenge for component finish is on the interior parts" must mean the components are headed for a new Aston Martin.
An interesting outside bet is put forward by the FortyOneSix Forum; they speculate that Prodrive is building carbon fibre parts for the McLaren P1. And the clue is in a snippet of information Prodrive released: ‘now entering production’. News outlets including Autocar recently confirmed production of the P1 hypercar began in early October.
They say that McLaren has said the interior of the P1 is carbon fibre; Prodrive says the “greatest challenge for component finish is on the interior parts”, which boast a tactile finish that “is a first for a production vehicle interior”. Prodrive has in the past said it’s worked with McLaren too: with the announcement of this contact, it says that its long-term relationship with the customer in question led to its selection.
The rumours abound....but Prodrive Managing Director Dominic Cartwright (right) isn't saying - for now anyway!


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