British Prime Minister David Cameron has visited Woking to open the brand-new McLaren Production Centre.
In the past decade, McLaren Automotive has become a ground-breaking British automotive powerhouse that is successfully taking on the giants of the European, Asian and North American sports car market.
Company boss Ron Dennis has made it clear that McLaren Automotive intends to become renowned not only as a premium automotive brand, but also as a high-volume high-performance sports car manufacturer with the presence and range to co-exist and compete with the most established supercar brands in the world.
It forms part of the McLaren Group which also includes McLaren Applied Technologies, McLaren Electronic Systems and, of course, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, the historic cornerstone of the business, a household name within the UK and one of the most prestigious brands in world sport. With 175 grand prix wins and 20 world titles achieved by a roster of talent, including world champions - Emerson Fittipaldi, James Hunt, Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen and Lewis Hamilton.
Speaking at the event, Ron Dennis said: "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to McLaren. I say "ladies and gentlemen", because that's the polite convention but, more importantly, you're all policy makers, industry leaders, influencers and opinion-formers. Welcome to you all.
"Prime Minister, thank you, especially, for taking the time to join us here today.
"We appreciate your visit very much, since it clearly demonstrates your commitment to our industry - an industry which, we know, sits at the very heart of your declared strategy to rebalance the UK economy. And I'm sure all of us here today, whether we be policy makers or industry leaders, support that strategy. Certainly, McLaren intends to contribute to it.
"McLaren comprises a group of companies, all of them based here on this corporate campus in Woking and all of them sharing a common culture, but with different technological disciplines and therefore different business objectives.
"Yet they all share the ambition to be the best, the ambition to win. Ambition is the driving force of entrepreneurship, which the Government is keen to facilitate and foster. It's a vision shared by all McLaren's shareholders.
"Without their investment in the UK, and more specifically in McLaren Automotive, we wouldn't be sitting here today. It's a vision also shared by everyone at McLaren, whether they be directors, or apprentices, or anyone in between.
"But we're here today, above all, to celebrate the formal opening of the McLaren Production Centre, the new home of McLaren Automotive, which sits behind me across the lake and which the Prime Minister has just toured.
"McLaren Automotive has recently launched a high-performance sports car, the McLaren MP4-12C, which has already attracted outstanding reviews. We've already pre-sold almost 2000 cars, and we're proud that they're being designed, developed and manufactured right here in Woking.
"McLaren is a very successful motor racing organisation which has won 20 Formula 1 world championships and 175 Formula 1 races - a total which equates to one in every four races that we've contested since 1966. We've also won the famous Indianapolis 500 race three times and the iconic Le Mans 24 Hours race at our first attempt.
"When the international motor racing season kicks off early next year, another McLaren company, McLaren Electronic Systems, will be in a unique position. Because every single car in the world's three premier motor racing series - in other words every single car in Formula 1, every single car in the IndyCar series and every single car in the most popular and successful racing series in the United States, NASCAR - will all be using engine control units made here in Woking. McLaren Electronic Systems is the world leader in the field of automotive electronic control systems for motorsport.
"But McLaren isn't only about racing cars and sports cars.
"Because we're now seeing very exciting developments from McLaren Applied Technologies, which has grown rapidly and profitably over the past few years.
"McLaren Applied Technologies develops motorsport-honed technologies for alternative applications, taking McLaren's technological knowhow into areas that no Formula 1 team has ever been to before. The British cyclist Mark Cavendish, who's here today, became a world champion this year on a Specialized road bike that was developed by McLaren Applied Technologies.
"We're working with the British Olympic Association on a number of sports and a number of British Olympians will therefore benefit from McLaren Applied Technologies during London 2012. And for National Air Traffic Services, we've developed a system that simulates aircraft ground movements in British airports, including Heathrow.
"I could, I assure you, go on.
"But why is McLaren doing all this? We're doing all this because we're committed to growth. Which is good news for the local community. Good news for jobs. Good news for exports. And good news for UK plc.
"As I've said, the Prime Minister has recently spoken about promoting entrepreneur-ship and rebalancing the UK economy. We at McLaren believe passionately in the importance of making things, of manufacturing high-tech, state-of-the-art, premium products.
"We very much support the Prime Minister's desire to rebalance the UK economy.
"Over the past 20 years, manufacturing as a percentage of the UK economy fell from just over 18 per cent in 1990 to 11 per cent in 2009. Recent figures have shown small but encouraging signs of improvement but we must all work to arrest the wider decline. And that's why McLaren aims to do its bit to support the rebalancing of the UK economy that I've just described and, in so doing, we intend to tap in to what is in fact a far more robust tradition, a far grander tradition, than we've seen in recent years, with over-reliance on financial and service industries. McLaren is, I hope, a dynamic and entrepreneurial force for good committed to designing and manufacturing high-tech, state-of-the-art, premium products. And, as I say, that's a robust tradition, a grand tradition, which is why I was encouraged to see that where the old £50 note used to carry an image of Sir John Houblon, a banker, the new £50 note carries images of James Watt and Matthew Boulton - two of the greatest figures in the industrial history of Great Britain whose famous company, Boulton & Watt, engineered and manufactured state-of-the-art steam engines throughout the 19th century.
"I regard this new £50 note as a small but nevertheless clear indication that manufacturing and engineering are being recognised and prioritised by this Government and I hope that this Government will continue to remove the barriers that hamper British companies' ability to grow and incentivise British companies to be successful in the future.
"At McLaren we're fully supportive of the move to encourage STEM in our schools and colleges - in other words, science, technology, engineering and mathematics and that's why McLaren has been a pioneer of the Government's 'See Inside Manufacturing' initiative which has encouraged schoolchildren, including children here in Woking, to come to McLaren to see and be inspired by what they can achieve if they study STEM subjects at school. In fact we're particularly proud to welcome here today the boys and girls from Woking College who were the winners of the recent McLaren Manufacturing Challenge, which was part of the Government's 'See Inside Manufacturing' initiative and we regard their achievement as a fantastic example of what can be accomplished by young people, in the STEM subjects, through ambition, dedication and teamwork.
"And that's the key word - teamwork. Because, inspired by steadfast shareholder support, intelligent and focused management and a talented and dedicated workforce, together, we're daring to try.
"And as a result of this unwavering effort, supported by the Government, we hope to inspire the scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians of the future to dare to try too. Thank you."
The Rt Hon Prime Minister David Cameron MP said: "When I come here [the McLaren 'campus'] and see what you're doing here, it's a great reminder that actually in Britain we do still have world class engineering, world class manufacturing, world class production techniques.
"I've been to a few factories, a few car manufacturing plants in my time, but I've never been to anything quite like this. It really is inspiring what you [at McLaren] do.
"We all want this to be a country where we are respected again for what we make as well as the services and finance we provide, vital though they are. There are people out there who say it can't happen because the base has gone, the skills aren't there, Britain doesn't make enough things any more on which to build. So they conclude that our glory days of science, engineering and manufacturing are behind us, and that from now on it's going to be about buying from the world rather than selling to the world.
"What McLaren does here in Woking is a powerful rebuke to that view. One of the things that so impressed me was that is it's not just about the extraordinary Formula One cars you make, or indeed the incredible new cars we've been looking at; it's the technology, the invention, the patents, it's all of that intellectual property that's going to lead to so many other great businesses in the future.
"Engineering doesn't get more complex than this - tens of thousands of components, aerodynamics that almost defy the laws of physics, cars that go from zero to 300km/h in less than nine seconds.
"This team [McLaren Racing] designs a new part for a Formula 1 car every 20 minutes across the season, that's how fast the innovation is.
"It's engineering so ground-breaking that when space scientists are looking for ideas they come to the brains in Formula 1.
"So we can be proud British engineering is not just dominating Formula 1, but actually changing the world.
"I don't for one second underestimate the difficulties ahead of us, but at the same time we have to be alive to the hope that is out there.
"It's about the growing strength of our car industry, the genius of our engineers, the genuine drive of our young people and apprentices - I've seen all of those things [at McLaren] today.
"It's visits to places like this [the McLaren 'campus'] that make me optimistic about the future, even in the difficult times we face.
"This country has the talent, the ideas and the expertise to create and to sell more to the rest of the world.
"It has a Government that is determined to capitalise on the opportunities out there, determined to invest in entrepreneurship and success.
"I'm confident that, with all the difficulties we face, we can ride out the storm that is taking place in Europe.
"Over time we can come through it in a way that we are much stronger, showing the world that Britain is back making things, back open for business."