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EXCLUSIVE: UK: Prodrive reports booming UK business

By Dave Leggett | 14 May 2012

Tony Butcher: "We are small enough and our culture is such that we are able to move quite quickly - and our customers value that."

Tony Butcher: "We are small enough and our culture is such that we are able to move quite quickly - and our customers value that."

UK-based automotive and motorsport engineering company Prodrive is reporting a surge in business from UK-based OEMs this year.

In the engineering services area of its activity, Prodrive estimates that 80% of its business is for UK customers and that it is working at capacity to meet high demand.

“The UK automotive industry is so busy at the moment that we are focussing on delivering what we have got on our books for the UK,” Prodrive Managing Director Tony Butcher told just-auto.

“There has been a remarkable bounce-back in investment since the recession and in fact, it has bounced back faster than it went down,” he maintains.

Butcher describes a “huge amount of new model development” taking place.

Prodrive is heavily involved in prototyping for its customers. “This will typically involve engineering in key attributes for the prototype vehicle so that the manufacturer can assess the attributes and the DNA that they want for that vehicle.”

“We receive a specification for how they, say, want the steering to feel, and they say here's the base car [not the production car] we want you to use and can you do it in four months? That will often involve substantial re-engineering of the underbody of the vehicle, it might mean a completely new suspension system or driveline. And there's a level of integration with the manufacturing facilities that we have on site here that means we can turn around projects like that very quickly.”

“Lots of companies can make prototypes, but making one that feels like a production car in a few months when you don't necessarily have the right platform to start with, and the specification may be vague, that's something we are good at – not least because it's not dissimilar from building rally cars. The manufacturers get from us a very high standard of workmanship.”

Butcher also maintains that Prodrive is benefiting from a change in emphasis to the nature of the outsourcing work that it is being asked to do by the OEMs.

“In the last automotive cycle, before the downturn, the manufacturers outsourced overspill type work to the consultancies and we were picking up a lot of that. Now we are picking up core work that is driving future model strategies for some of the manufacturers – which is quite flattering from our point of view. And it gives them a different perspective because of the range of experience we are amassing from the range of manufacturers we work with.”