Engineering development is 45% of the work and the remaining 10% a new technology park, home to OEMs and supplier outposts, and even a college, although Horiba MIRA’s not just a landlord. “We’re all collaborating to make sure new facilities are utilised,” says Allen.
MIRA’s engineering nous has long been under-exposed to the wider world – the trouble partly being that a lot of clients don’t like it to talk about what has been going on.
It has long been easier to say what MIRA can’t or won’t do. It won’t do the styling of a car, and it won’t mass-produce cars. “If it’s 10 vehicles, sure,” says Allen, “50, maybe, but 5000, we licence it.” Beyond those limitations, though, Horiba MIRA has the ability to design and engineer everything, from start to finish, for a new vehicle. Most OEMs wouldn’t need it to, but just two years ago MIRA created a fast-response military vehicle in under a year.
But these days its ambitions are a bit stronger than that. It would like to see that, via the roll-out of the technology it helps develop, ‘every journey in the world is positively influenced by us’. And future technology is at least as important to it as that which makes it onto the roads today. “We’re developing a research and development campus here,” Allen explains, from an office that overlooks a good proportion of the 750-acre site, including the old tower.
From up here you can see a new city circuit, digitally connected so cars and base stations can communicate with each other. It’s currently being used to develop driver assistance and autonomous technologies and traffic management. Another new test track build has started, including a 350m approach road to a vast, 300m-diameter asphalt pad (given the go-ahead against some objections about its proximity to the Bosworth battlefield site), while another new-build will allow testing and development of autonomous parking technology.