Our Story

Shaping the future of automotive

We’ve come a long way.

From our early beginnings as a public enterprise with close bonds to familiar customers, we were known as the proving ground for world-leading test services: a history and legacy to be proud of. But the industry needed more from us, and we had more to give. Together we became bolder and new ambitions were realised: a global footprint, the MIRA Technology Park and investments in new facilities and sought-after engineering capabilities.

In 2015, MIRA was bought by the HORIBA Group, with our business henceforth known as HORIBA MIRA. HORIBA brought substantial investment and a passion for success, helping us to continue to grow.

Today the world is changing faster than ever, and the automotive market is responding at a scale, speed and complexity that is unprecedented. Disruptive technology-driven trends: diverse mobility; autonomous driving; electrification; and connectivity; place HORIBA MIRA’s distinct and world-class capabilities – optimisation, integration and verification – at the very heart of a new industrial revolution.

We are clear about our global purpose: improving lives by making journeys safer, cleaner, smarter. What we do matters. We can and  do improve lives every day as a dynamic community of world-renowned mobility innovators. Together we’re pursuing our shared vision: that every journey in the world will be positively influenced by us.

Here’s our story…

MIRA’s Memorandum and Articles of Association are signed

On the 11th December 1945, a meeting takes place in the SMMT premises in London where MIRA’s Memorandum and Articles of Association are signed.


The UK’s automotive industry research is handed over to the Motor Industry Research Association

On the 1st January 1946, MIRA was incorporated when the responsibilities for the UK’s automotive industry research was handed over to the Motor Industry Research Association from the Automobile Research Committee.

On the 20th June 1946, the Institute of Automobile Engineers formally presents its laboratories in Brentford, Essex to MIRA, where the company operates from until it outgrows the site in September 1948.


Former airbase is leased by MIRA as the start of the proving ground

Following an evaluation of over 40 potential post-war sites, including Donnington Park and Silverstone, a former airbase near Nuneaton is leased by MIRA in 1948 as the start of the proving ground. The airfield chosen was RAF Lindley. It consisted of more than 650 acres with three concrete runways, perimeter tracks, dispersal and hard standings, a control tower and one hangar.


MIRA’s Nuneaton proving site is formally opened by Leonard Lord

MIRA’s Nuneaton proving site is formally opened by Leonard Lord on 28th April 1949. He brought scissors with him to cut the tape but MIRA’s first Managing Director (between 1946 – 1964), Dr Fogg (in raincoat) who had previously worked on ballistics arranged for an explosive to sever the tape.


First purpose built track on the Proving Ground opened for use

The first purpose built track on the Proving Ground – a half-mile section of the famous Belgian Pavé road – opened for use in early 1950. Meanwhile, the new MIRA laboratory facilities were being constructed on an 11 acre site along the A5 trunk road, Watling Street.


Construction gets underway on one of the high-speed circuit tracks

In 1952, construction was underway on one of the three super-elevated bends of the high-speed circuit. This 34° banking allows a neutral-steer speed of 85mph meaning constant 100mph laps were easily achieved.


Headquarter buildings on the A5 were completed

Headquarter buildings on the A5 were completed in 1953, one year ahead of MIRA’s formal opening ceremony.


MIRA hold’s its official opening ceremony

By 1954 there was sufficient in the way of facilities at the former RAF site for MIRA to hold an official opening ceremony. On the 21st May, the high-speed track was used for a grand cavalcade of vehicles in front of the then Minister for Transport, Rt Hon A T Lennox-Boyd.


Carrying out important research work in the areas of ergonomics

By the mid-1950s, MIRA was carrying out important research work in the areas of ergonomics, including drivers’ field of vision and body structures analysis.


Cold room was built on the laboratory site

In 1957 a cold room was built on the laboratory site. It was rebuilt in the mid 1980s as a hot and cold climatic chamber with a variable humidity capability and enhanced again in the mid-1990s by the addition of a solar array for simulation of the sun’s thermal effect on vehicles.


Extensive investigation of wind tunnel testing was carried out

At the end of the 1950s an extensive investigation of wind tunnel testing was carried out using the 24 foot diameter aircraft wind tunnel at RAE Farnborough. The conclusion was that a purpose-built wind tunnel for the automotive industry was required and that MIRA should set about designing and building the world’s first. Opening in 1960, the full scale tunnel used four aircraft propellers as the fans, each driven by a 325hp electric motor.


MIRA rapidly build facilities to accommodate the newly emerging engineering disciplines

During the 1960s MIRA rapidly built facilities to accommodate the newly emerging engineering disciplines. Development included a crash laboratory, NVH chambers, and in 1967, an ‘atmospheric pollution’ emissions laboratory (pictured). During this time of change the managing director was Professor Macmillan (1964 – 1977), who was also heavily involved in MIRA’s switch from a grant-aided to a commercial operation.


Minister of Technology opens the new crash laboratory

In 1968, Anthony Wedgwood Benn (Tony Benn) who was then the Minister of Technology came to MIRA to open the new crash laboratory. The laboratory was the most advanced in the world and helped MIRA lead the way in the newly developing science of safety development engineering.


New powertrain technologies began to be investigated

The energy crisis of the 1970s meant that new powertrain technologies began to be investigated, with many people believing that by the turn of the century we would all be driving around in electric vehicles. The ‘Enfield’ was a valiant British electric vehicle project that was actually produced in limited numbers.


The MIRA laboratory site photographed in August 1976

The MIRA laboratory site was photographed from the air in August 1976. Compare this view with the aerial photograph that was taken in 1995 to see the site development that occurred in the intervening period.


MIRA’s HyGe laboratory opened by HRH Prince Michael of Kent

MIRA’s HyGe laboratory was first opened in 1981 by HRH Prince Michael of Kent. In 1996 the facility was extended and upgraded. It was re-opened by Sid Watkins OBE, F1’s safety and medical delegate at the Federation International de L’Automobile (FIA).


MIRA’s Engine Test Laboratory opened by HRH Prince Michael of Kent

1982 saw the opening of MIRA’s Engine Test Laboratory by HRH Prince Michael of Kent, initially with six engine test cells. Standing to the left of Prince Michael is Cedric Ashley, who was MIRA’s managing director from 1977 to 1987.


Margaret Thatcher and husband Denis visit MIRA’s facilities

When Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and husband Denis came to see MIRA’s facilities in 1986, the media came too.


Semi-anechoic Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) chamber opened by Sir John Egan

MIRA’s first Semi-anechoic Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) chamber was opened by Sir John Egan, chairman and chief executive of Jaguar Cars in 1987. Sir John is standing on the left in the photograph and to his right is David Swallow, who was MIRA’s managing director from 1987 to 1990.


New wet-grip turning circles opened

After the straight line wet-grip surfaces were opened in 1986, the wet-grip turning circles followed in 1989. The scale of the facility is illustrated by the Jaguar XJ-S at ‘2-o’clock’ on the middle circle and also inset.


MIRA take cycling to another level, using its Full-scale Wind Tunnel

In preparation for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, Chris Boardman and Lotus Engineering take cycling to another level. Testing with MIRA’s aerodynamics team in the Full-scale Wind Tunnel, they perfect the aerodynamics of both the Lotus ‘super bike’ and Chris’ riding position. The rest of the story is history, with Chris catching his opponent Jens Lehmann in the final of the 4km cycling pursuit to win the Olympic gold medal.


First crash test conducted in MIRA’s new state of the art crash test laboratory

‘L1111’ was the first crash test conducted in MIRA’s new state of the art crash-test laboratory. The test was performed on the 19th November 1993 in front of a large audience of guests which included Robert Key, the Minister for Roads and Transport.

In 1993 MIRA’s first Climatic Wind Tunnel (CWT1) was also opened and instantly proved itself to be a great success.


MIRA laboratory’s major changes photographed in July 1995

The MIRA laboratory site was photographed in July 1995. Major changes had occurred since the 1976 aerial photograph was taken. These include the building of the Structures Laboratory, Calibration Centre, Pedestrian Laboratory, HyGe Laboratory, new Crash Laboratory and Engine Test Cells. There was also now car parking along the front of the site to cope with the increased number of staff and customers.


MIRA’s Kinematics and Compliance Facility is opened by Richard Parry-Jones

In 1996 MIRA’s Kinematics and Compliance Facility is opened by Richard Parry-Jones, Vice President, Small and Medium Vehicle Centre, Ford Motor Company Limited. The facility applies individual or combined motions or forces to a vehicle, and can then measure and define the test vehicle’s suspension and steering system characteristics.


Thrust SSC becomes the first car to break the sound barrier

On October 15th 1997, Thrust SSC becomes the first car to break the sound barrier when it sets a land speed record of 763mph. During the development of the car, MIRA assisted the Thrust SSC team with its rear-wheel-steering system and also by conducting aerodynamic evaluations on a scale model of Thrust SSC.


McLaren F1, driven by Peter Taylor, breaks the MIRA high-speed circuit record

On December 16th 1998 a McLaren F1, driven by Peter Taylor, broke the MIRA High-speed Circuit record averaging 168 mph (270.36 km/h) around the 2.82 mile (4.53 km) banked circuit – at one point reaching a speed of 196.2 mph (315.75 km/h).
The previous lap record was set in April 1967, in a sports-racing prototype built for the Le Mans 24-hour endurance race. This winning car, Jaguar’s XJ13, managed an impressive lap average of 161.655mph (260.15 km/h) and was driven by British racing driver David Hobbs.


MIRA’s Quatro Park engineering test centre in Basildon, Essex, opens in June 2000

MIRA’s Quatro Park engineering test centre in Basildon, Essex, opens in June 2000. Then as today, the facility offers support to Tier 1 and OEM customers. This bespoke engineering test facility is the largest of its kind in the UK, and with BS EN ISO 17025 (UKAS) accreditation, Quatro Park offers independent validation testing on a variety of products for all engineering sectors.


MIRA’s second Climatic Wind Tunnel (CWT2) is opened

In order to meet customer requirements, a second Climatic Wind Tunnel (CWT2) was opened in 2003. The opening ceremony was performed by Dr Tim Leverton, Group Engineering Director, J. C. Bamford Excavators Ltd. Dr Leverton is shown on the left in the photograph and on the right is John Wood, MIRA’s Managing Director from 1991 to 2008.


Opening of the Heavy Vehicle Semi-anechoic Chamber (HVSAC)

MIRA’s comprehensive Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) capabilities were further enhanced with the opening of the Heavy Vehicle Semi-anechoic Chamber (HVSAC). Then and today it has the capability to test large heavy vehicles. Major General Alan Sharman, Director General of the Defence Manufacturers Association performed the opening ceremony. General Sharman is shown on the right in the photograph.


MIRA awarded ‘Crash Test Company of the Year’ by Automotive Testing Technology International magazine

The ‘Crash Test Company of the Year’ award was presented to MIRA by Automotive Testing Technology International magazine in 2007. The photograph shows MIRA’s safety development manager Joanne Smith (née Gleave) being presented with the award by automotive journalist Keith Read.


Engineering expertise extends to the rail industry

In 2009 MIRA’s engineering expertise was extended to the rail industry. At the Long Marston test site, MIRA performed Britain’s first full-scale rail crash test in over 20 years.


Plans to redevelop the MIRA Technology Park (MTP) announced

In 2010, MIRA announced its masterplan for MIRA Technology Park. These include building a state-of-the-art Engineering Centre and creating the most advanced, independent transport Technology Park in Europe. The ambitious project would generate more than 2,000 jobs over the next ten years.


MIRA’s plans to develop Europe’s most advanced transport Technology Park attract praise from the government

In separate meetings with Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, and Business Secretary, Vince Cable, MIRA’s CEO George Gillespie explained how a state-of-the-art Engineering Centre and Technology Park would help attract international companies looking for advanced engineering expertise and facilities.


Planning approval for MIRA’s 1.75 million sq ft Technology Park development was endorsed

Planning approval for MIRA’s 1.75 million sq ft Technology Park development was endorsed by Secretary of State Eric Pickles in March 2012. Later that year, in November, MIRA’s new 43,000 sq ft Control Centre was opened by the Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. The Control Centre was the first new building on MIRA Technology Park.


MIRA hosts HRH Prince Harry

In September 2013, MIRA hosted HRH Prince Harry and the UK team of the Walking With The Wounded Allied South Pole Challenge. During the 24 hour exercise the team were subjected to temperatures as low as -35°C, snow blizzards, and winds of up to 200km/h to help them prepare for the brutal environment of Antarctica. The event received international coverage and generated a significant amount of global media and customer interest in MIRA’s environmental testing services.


Business Secretary Vince Cable returned to MIRA Technology Park

Business Secretary Vince Cable returned to MIRA Technology Park on 30th July 2014 to announce that driverless cars could take to UK roads from January 2015, and that UK cities could bid for a share of a £10m competition to host a driverless cars trial.

2014 also saw Bob Joyce, Jaguar Land Rover’s Executive Director of Product Creation and Delivery, launch MIRA’s newly expanded Kinematics and Compliance Facility, featuring Europe’s only independent Suspension Parameter Measurement Machine (SPMM) with moment of inertia capability.


HORIBA acquires MIRA

HORIBA – a world-leader in automotive test measurement systems – expands its operation through the purchase of MIRA. The investment, which was completed on July 14 2015, saw HORIBA expand its current portfolio, with a move into vehicle engineering and testing consultancy.


Marcus Jones MP celebrates completion of Phase One of the key infrastructure development plan

On 29th January 2016, Marcus Jones MP – Minister for Local Government, attended an event at MIRA Technology Park to celebrate the completion of Phase One of its key infrastructure development plan. Vehicles developed at HORIBA MIRA were displayed at the event, ranging from a Mercedes F1 car to a 41 tonne CAT articulated truck.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid also visited HORIBA MIRA on 1st February, to announce £20m of new funding to support the research and development of driverless car technologies.


£2m Advanced Battery Development Suite opens

Cementing our position as a UK leader in battery engineering and testing our £2m Advanced Battery Development Suite was opened in May. Our resulting engineering capabilities provide test and development services for battery packs and other components for hybrid and electric vehicles.


Permission granted for the creation of a Connected and Autonomous Vehicle development facility

In September, permission was granted for the creation of a Connected and Autonomous Vehicle development facility – a purpose-built safe environment for testing CAVs up to the limit of their controllability, a critical activity to ensure consumer confidence in the technologies. The test environment will be unique, enabling a wide range of CAV and traditional driving scenarios to be tested.


Graeme Stewart joins the Executive Team

Graeme Stewart joins the Executive Team and takes overall responsibility for the technical strategy, implementation and delivery.

All of HORIBA MIRA’s Engineering, Testing, Connected and Autonomous Vehicle and Vehicle Resilience teams report into Graeme, and he ensures the business continues to excel in customer delivery.


The world’s first Vehicle Resilience facility opens

In April, we opened a new Vehicle Resilience (VRES) Technology Centre, further enhancing our test and engineering capabilities. It is the world’s first engineering and test facility dedicated to a combined approach to automotive cybersecurity, functional safety and electromagnetic resilience.

VRES represents a significant investment into our engineering and testing capabilities, consisting of £1.5m of capital expenditure complemented by significant investment into capability development.


£4m Propulsion Test and Development Centre opens

Our £4m Propulsion Test and Development Centre opens. A state-of-the-art testing facility for engine development, providing emissions, performance and validation testing with the latest simulation hardware, which effectively replicates environmental conditions such as temperature, pressure and humidity.

The centre was specifically developed in response to the need for OEMs to meet ever-stringent emissions standards since the introduction of the Real Driving Emissions in 2017.


A £2.3m contract to supply our VIKING UGV to the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory was awarded

In March, we secured a major £2.3m contract to supply VIKING – the first autonomous Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) of its kind – to the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl). The award of this contract is a demonstration of our unique technology in this field and its ability to help customers meet complex and demanding challenges.

The funding was awarded as part of the Joint Tactical Autonomous Resupply and Replenishment (JTARR) Risk Reduction project in support of the Theseus transformation funded project. As part of the work, Dstl will conduct trials and experimentation on behalf of the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) and, working with the British Army, look at ways to deliver vital supplies autonomously, reducing risk to front-line soldiers. The work will also help develop deeper knowledge for the Army’s future wider employment of more autonomous systems.


A new £1.5m Large Climatic Vibration Laboratory and Battery Abuse Facility opens

A new £1.5m Large Climatic Vibration Laboratory opens in October. It’s the UK’s first battery vibration test facility – or ‘shaker’ as it’s known in the industry – to also offer electrical and thermal cycling. It enables battery charging and discharging whilst in use, along with climatic capability, to carry out tests in ambient conditions ranging from -40°C to 100°C.

The new twin vibration facility can operate in three axes and has the capacity to vibrate up to one tonne of mass, making it ideal for testing the biggest EV batteries on the market to regulatory standards such as UN38.3 and ECEReg100.


ASSURED CAV ecosystem nears completion

In December 2020, we announced that the ASSURED CAV ecosystem was near completion.

Representing an investment of £100m, it will provide the UK with the most complete environment for the acceleration of future mobility. It has been specifically designed to enable the automotive industry, policy makers and government to develop autonomous vehicle technology, ensuring it is robust to the wide range of eventualities seen on public roads, before being released to consumers.

Far more than a location for vehicle testing, ASSURED CAV is a lighthouse in the CAV industry%3B a location where organisations can lead in both the development and verification of self-driving technologies, but also where the learning can be applied to influence future legislation, policy and insurance, to ensure the future of autonomous vehicles will improve lives.


REE Automotive opens new engineering centre of excellence at MTP

REE Automotive, a leader in e-Mobility, announced in February the establishment of a new state-of-the-art Engineering Centre of Excellence at MIRA Technology Park. The new Engineering Centre will expedite REE’s strategic plans to meet anticipated global demand for its breakthrough REEcorner and Electric Vehicle (EV) platform technology.

The Engineering Centre will spearhead REEcorner and EV platform engineering design, validation, verification and testing, as well as product homologation. REE will also have access to world-class test facilities and a proving ground for physical testing and validation of the REEcorner and EV platform at the MIRA Technology Park in the UK.


We partner with TOGG on the development of its pioneering electric SUV

TOGG, Turkey’s Automobile Initiative Group comprising of five Turkish industry giants, announces it will be working us as a key partner during the development of its pioneering electric SUV.

The battery electric SUV unveiled in 2020, is Turkey’s first home-bred vehicle and represents the culmination of Turkey’s progress in industrial technology. It is one of two electric vehicles announced by the automaker, with a C-Sedan concept also announced.

Working with TOGG to design and develop the suspension system and associated chassis attribute performance, we will take responsibility for the development of the vehicle’s dynamics, NVH and durability chassis attributes with the TOGG


Viritech’s Apricale™ hydrogen hypercar to be developed at MTP

In April, MIRA Technology Park welcomed another noteworthy innovator, Viritech, to the campus. The news that one of the world’s first hydrogen hypercars will be developed in tandem with HORIBA MIRA’s world-class engineering consultancy came two months after REE Automotive announced a new state-of-the-art Engineering Centre of Excellence on the site and a commission was confirmed to develop vehicle dynamics, NVH and durability chassis attributes for TOGG’s electric modular vehicle platform.


Vehicle Attribute Development Team invests in class-leading simulator

In May we confirmed that our Vehicle Attribute Development Team had concluded an investment in a new VI-grade COMPACT simulator to underscore its proprietary Voice of the Customer approach to vehicle development.


Awarded Gold in the Armed Forces Covenant Employer Recognition Scheme

In July we were awarded the Gold Award in the Armed Forces Covenant Employer Recognition Scheme for its work in support of the defence community.

Representing the highest badge of honour, the scheme encourages employers to support defence and inspire others to do the same. It encompasses bronze, silver and gold awards for employer organisations which pledge, demonstrate or advocate support to defence and the armed forces community, and align their values with the Armed Forces Covenant. In 2021, we were one of 15 organisations in the West Midlands to gain the scheme’s highest award. A total of 140 organisations have achieved the gold standard nationwide with HORIBA MIRA progressing to the level from silver, which we have held since 2016.


Marking 75 years

In September, HORIBA MIRA celebrated 75 years since opening in 1946. In that time we’ve seen huge growth and nowadays we’re known for so much more than our extensive vehicle testing capabilities; we have a world-leading team of automotive experts, MIRA Technology Park is one of Europe’s leading destinations for automotive research and development, we’ve developed extensive engineering services and enhanced our reach globally with HORIBA


ASSURED CAV – opening ceremony

In June, HORIBA MIRA’s ASSURED CAV, Europe’s most comprehensive ecosystem for connected and automated vehicle engineering and testing, was formally opened on 20 June 2022. Attendees of the event included Mr Juichi Saito, HORIBA executive vice president and group COO; Government and CAM testbed partners; customers; senior HORIBA Automotive and UK representatives, and colleagues from across the HORIBA MIRA team. Guests were shown the variety of specialist tools used for validating Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and a series of demonstrations including a high-speed limit of controllability scenario and a straight crossing path ADAS test carried out on the purpose-built 2023 Euro NCAP-compliant junction – one of the only locations in the world where this is possible.

After 4 years of development, HORIBA MIRA’s ASSURED CAV physical facilities are now OPEN!
As your trusted partner for CAV, ADAS and vehicle development, our engineering expertise supported by an ecosystem of physical and simulated environments, allows you to challenge your technology in both regulatory and bespoke scenarios across world-class facilities, to ensure your market-leading products are safe.


Iveco Defence Vehicles S.p.A. (IDV) announces a new partnership with HORIBA MIRA

In January, IDV, a leading international defence player with over 85 years of experience in the development and manufacturing of a wide range of protected vehicles for military use, announces it has entered into an agreement to become the majority shareholder in MIRA UGV, HORIBA MIRA’s Uncrewed Ground Vehicle (UGV) division. The agreement combines IDV’s expertise as a manufacturer of defence vehicles with its technological know-how and global production capabilities, with HORIBA MIRA’s position as a sector-leading company in delivering state-of-the-art Uncrewed Ground Vehicle solutions. The agreement also provides capital and capability to move HORIBA MIRA’s UGV platforms and technology to the next stage of development and production.


HORIBA MIRA opens Driving Simulator Centre to enhance next-generation vehicle attribute engineering

HORIBA MIRA opens Driving Simulator Centre to enhance next-generation vehicle attribute engineering