Cameron attends McLaren opening

British prime minister David Cameron was present at McLaren's Woking base today as the company officially opened the new Foster + Partners designed McLaren Production Centre, where it will base its automotive division alongside its racing activities.

Cameron's visit comes as McLaren Automotive was named the best British Luxury Brand at the prestigious Walpole Awards, given to those individuals and companies who exemplify British excellence by their work in the luxury sector, both in Britain and internationally.

Earlier this week McLaren Group executive chairman Ron Dennis picked up the award from actor Hugh Bonneville - Robert, Earl of Grantham in the hugely popular Downton Abbey TV period drama.

Cameron said that McLaren "epitomised the spirit of hope, innovation and drive" he hopes will help the UK economy emerge from its current woes.

"I want the country to be respected for what we make, as well as the services we provide," he added. "McLaren, in breaking new ground, are a powerful rebuke to those who say the manufacturing base has gone. F1 is an incredible British success story, but they are just the high-end of what is being achieved. Visits to places like this make me optimistic that we can in time ride out this storm and come out stronger."

Dennis's vision had always been to turn McLaren into a luxury brand to rival Ferrari and they now appear to be well on the way. McLaren plans to have established 35 global dealerships between now and the end of 2012, selling its MP4-12C supercar.

It is also working on the design of high-performance production cars whose launch will take annual production to 4,500 cars per year by 2014 - the level that Ferrari always considered to be optimum in their market sector.

Among McLaren's guests was cycling star Mark Cavendish. McLaren Applied Technologies collaborated with bicycle manufacturer Specialized to provide carbon-fibre lay-up expertise for the S-Works + McLaren Venge - the bike that took of Cavendish to the Tour de France's green jersey and the road race world championship.

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