Tuesday, 22 March 2016
TVR picks Wales as new production site
As expected, sports car maker TVR will follow the lead set by Aston Martin and build its new car in a new production facility located in Wales; in this case in the Ebbw Vale Enterprise Zone in South Wales.
The Welsh Government will also invest in the car maker, further enhancing this manufacturing project which represents over £30 million of capital expenditure over the next five years.
TVR, an independent British sports car manufacturer established in 1947 by Trevor Wilkinson, has had a chequered career. The business established itself as a leading light in the British low-volume sports car market, building an international reputation for high-performance vehicles and innovative design. The current management team acquired the brand in 2013.
The contracts to locate the new TVR factory in Wales were signed last Friday and the deal was officially announced by Rt. Hon Carwyn Jones, the First Minister of Wales, at a press conference this morning.
Currently, TVR is looking at several specific options for the precise location of the factory, the outcome of which will be the subject of a separate announcement in the coming weeks.
Les Edgar, TVR’s chairman said: “This is a fantastic opportunity both for TVR and the Welsh Government. South Wales is becoming a major hub for automotive and motorsport technology and development and the area is a serious opportunity for business development and job creation. We have a sports car project that has garnered global approval and excitement, and we are delighted that the Welsh government wish to become a part of an exciting new era for TVR.”
The First Minister said: “This is yet another fantastic high profile investment for Wales and a great boost for our automotive sector. TVR is another iconic and much loved, world-class brand that still commands a strong and loyal international following. I am delighted the next generation of TVRs will proudly bear the label Made in Wales.”
“Today’s news follows hot on the heels of the Aston Martin announcement and sends out a strong, clear message that Wales is the location of choice for advanced manufacturing. It also illustrates that our pro-business approach is delivering results, attracting significant investment and creating high quality jobs and it is another huge boost for Wales, for our automotive sector and for our skilled workforce.”
The new TVR project, announced in early 2015, has already secured over 350 deposits for the new launch edition car, which features innovative design and styling that maintains the distinctive TVR DNA, but includes what is called “F1-inspired, ground-effect technology”.
The chassis and body has been designed by Gordon Murray of Gordon Murray Design Ltd. and will be the first production car to be manufactured using its revolutionary iStream assembly process.
Cosworth-Ford power unit
Every engine will be hand-assembled in Cosworth’s world-famous race shop, under the same conditions and by the same employees as the firm’s F1 and IndyCar race engines.
It remains to be seen what happens in the future. If production volumes – say to over 500 a year – of the car climb significantly, Cosworth may have to identify a separate manufacturing unit. But at present, the Northampton facility is the main focus of production.
TVR plans several versions of its car – from standard and extra-performance road car to track car, Tuscan series racer and Le Mans car. Power output could therefore be in range from around 450bhp to beyond 500bhp.
In standard form, the engine already appears in power levels from around 300bhp to 412bhp in the recently launched European Ford Mustang.
It is understood the TVR engines will receive a unique engine management system, which has been designed by Cosworth to modify the behaviour of the engine’s variable cam phasing.
There will also be a lighter flywheel, a dry sump and unique manifolds to suit the cars’ side-exit exhausts.
The Ford engine has a good track record and TVR needed an engine with built-in reliability and long life as well as enough for potential for the additional performance TVR engineers had in mind.
Cosworth has enjoyed a relationship with Ford that extends over 60 years and it sees the Coyote as a modern, compact and lightweight power unit with potential for growth.
It may be recalled that Cosworth was formed in 1958 by Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth. It, like TVR, has had a chequered history, but nevertheless claims to have become “the most successful independent engine manufacturer in history as well as one of the market leaders in performance electronics, with a string of driver and manufacturer titles to its credit in a wide range of formulae with impressive performances in Formula One, IndyCar, Champ Car, WRC, sports cars and MotoGP”.
TVR needs a good power-to-weight ratio from its Cosworth-Ford engine – the target weight for the first car is 1100kg.
TVR aims to reveal and display a version of its Le Mans car at the 2017 and plans to be ready to compete in the 2018 race.
The Welsh factory will be busy fulfilling orders that already run through to the end of 2018 with a target date for the second half of 2017 for the first cars to start reaching customers.
Before then, however, there is much groundwork to cover, including building up manufacturing process routines as well as training staff. A long way to go - a very long way.