MIRA Celebrates 65 Years at the Forefront of Vehicle Engineering

Following the 65th anniversary of the whole-vehicle engineering and test consultancy, MIRA, CEO George Gillespie looks to the future trends and technologies that will shape the industries in which it operates.

£300 Million MIRA Development Given Green Light

MIRA has earned an enviable reputation since it was formed in 1946 as the government funded Motor Industry Research Association; however it is the business’ ability to identify and find smart solutions to future problems that has seen it evolve into a multi-million pound operation spanning the automotive, defence, aerospace and rail industries.

“Technological change has always driven our industry,”

observes CEO Dr George Gillespie 

“but the speed of change has never been faster, so the ability to remain nimble enough to adapt to it and direct the expertise within your organisation is crucial. 

“That is why we recently announced our intention to become Europe’s most advanced independent transport technology facility – not the biggest. We want to apply our expertise in specialist fields, such as unmanned vehicles, intelligent transportation systems and low carbon transport, to develop original engineering solutions that meet societal needs like saving lives, reducing congestion and saving fuel.

“Consumers are also driving change, having seen a technological revolution in their homes and at work they are beginning to demand more from their vehicles. As in the areas of home and work, usability will make the key difference to consumer uptake and greater integration between vehicles and personal communication devices such as smart phones is a possible outcome.”

These developments are grounded in much more stringent safety standards and testing, such as the Europe wide Euro NCAP rating. Electro Magnetic Compatibility (EMC) has also come to the fore in recent years as a wider range of technologies have been developed that have the potential to interact with vehicle systems. 

This ability to identify opportunities and adapt led to a record year for MIRA in 2010, which saw turnover increase by 30 per cent to £37million and a growing requirement from customers for high value engineering consultancy in addition to its design engineering, computer simulation, test development, validation and certification services.

“Customers are increasingly looking for a partner rather than supplier when they come and talk to us,”

continues Dr Gillespie.

“They no longer just want to know how a vehicle or component performs but why it performs that way and then how it can be improved – made safer or more efficient.

“For example we recently completed a vehicle project for a Chinese client that saw more than 40 of its engineers come to work alongside our team at MIRA – in order to develop and refine aspects including ride, handling quality and braking – and then used our team in Shanghai to help the customer ensure it was market ready.”

MIRA has been involved in many ground-breaking landmark projects over the past 65 years. Here are some of its highlights:

  • MIRA continues to play host to various filming opportunities for programmes including Top Gear and Fifth Gear (2000s)
  • Technology integration and prototype development of Jaguar’s Limo Green (2010)
  • MIRA performs Britain’s first full scale rail crash test in over 20 years (2009)
  • MACE 1, MIRA’s first foray into unmanned ground vehicles, wins “Best Use of Autonomy” in the MOD’s Grand Challenge (2008)
  • Passive safety development on the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren (2005)
  • Design analysis and development of the air conditioning for the Bentley State Limousine, which was a gift from Bentley to the queen for her Jubilee (2002)
  • Airbag installation and testing for the Lamborghini Diablo (1997)
  • Noise Vibration and harshness and ride and handling development of the original Ford Mondeo (1992)
  • Crash testing of the DeLorean DMC-12 (later made famous by the Back to the Future films) (1980s) 
  • Opening of MIRA’s crash laboratory (1970s)
  • MIRA opens the world’s first full scale aerodynamic wind tunnel designed for the automotive industry (1960s)
  • Crash testing on the Jaguar E-Type (1960s) 
  • MIRA’s facilities are developed including the opening of the Proving Ground (1954) and a cold room, which would later become the climatic chambers (1980s)
  • MIRA is formed (1940s)