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New UK Sports Car Production To Begin In Wales


New UK Sports Car Production To Begin In Wales

Rise Of The Dragon - Is Wales Becoming The New Centre Of UK Sports Car Production?

We love Wales. That’s pretty obvious given the fact that our site is here, and most of the people who work with us and who come to see us and buy our cars are also from these parts.

But over the past few months, it’s also become apparent that the whole country has been picking up on the buzz created from the prospect of having not one, but two, makers of top-line cars build new factories here in which they plan to build the models on which they are pinning much of their hopes for the next couple of years.

Aston Martin was the first to take the plunge, announcing that it would be building its latest crossover/luxury tourer, the DBX, at a new factory in St Athan. It was reported that the deal was sealed after two years of hard negotiations, and although the factory won’t produce its first car until 2020, at its heart will be a new ‘skills academy’, which is expected to help bolster the region’s skills base, and emphasise its association with the luxury brand.

Once it’s fully up and running, the site is expected to employ about 750 people directly, tapping into what Aston Martin UK’s chief executive Andy Palmer said was “a wealth of craftsmanship” already available in the region, stressing that each of its cars took about 200 man hours to build.


From Flying Machines To Driving Machines

To people from several previous generations, St Athan is still associated with its former RAF base. Opened in 1938, it was initially used as a training school for Air Force mechanics, riggers and drivers, but when war broke out the following year it became a major establishment for training a variety of staff conscripted to help the war effort against Nazi Germany.

Tens of thousands of flight engineers passed through the school between its opening and 1951, while its ‘boy entrant’ scheme trained large numbers of youngsters from local schools who underwent training as part of their National Service.

Even though its heyday is more than half a century behind it, Andy Palmer believes St Athan, and Wales in general, have enough resources behind them to ensure a bright and sustainable future: “You've got some wonderful universities, Cardiff University for example, you train great people. I believe this will retain youngsters in Wales and in Cardiff," he said at his company’s announcement.

The firm picked the site ahead of other options it had been considering in the United States.


Building Sports Cars, Creating Exciting Careers

No doubt the top brass at TVR will be looking to tap into the same expertise - and even compete for graduates from the same courses - for its new facility.

It will be building its factory in Ebbw Vale, about 40 miles from St Athan as the crow flies.

The first of the company’s new sports cars will roll off the production line in 2017. It marks a return to the market for a company which was founded by Trevor Wilkinson exactly 70 years before in his home town of Blackpool.

This company built its first original car in 1949, having started out as a general engineering company, repairing and refurbishing cars and trucks.

Its new plant is expected to employ about 150 - so it will be a much smaller operation than Aston’s - and will produce a model firmly in the TVR tradition of highly distinctive sports cars.

TVR was attracted to the area by the prospect of being able to test its cars on its doorstep at the UK’s newest commercial race track.

The Circuit of Wales has been funded jointly by the Welsh and UK governments and private investors, and will also be the site of a technology park. The £315million development of an eight-acre site will have at its heart a 21-turn asphalt track, and TVR has already indicated that it will make heavy use of the facilities for testing purposes, with TVR chairman Ted Edgar said to be especially keen to use the circuit to showcase the full potential of his firm’s cars.

The firm already claims to have taken more than 350 deposit payments for the as-yet unnamed car. And although he won’t be among those expected to get behind the wheel, Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones is still understandably excited about the project, saying it “sends out a strong, clear message that Wales is the location of choice for advanced manufacturing.”