AN INNOVATION centre focusing on race cars has opened in Abingdon.

The the new facility, for international engineering group GKN’s automotive division, will use the firm’s expertise in electrified drivelines, lightweight structures and composite materials to create new technologies and offer consultancy.

Following GKN’s partnership with Panasonic Jaguar Racing Formula E team, which was announced last month, the centre will work on new components and technologies for the Jaguar Formula E electric race car.

R&D into 3D-printed titanium, in which GKN is already involved through its aerospace division, will also be carried out in Abingdon.

Another is flywheel technology, which helped power hybrid vehicles to victory at the 24-Hours Le Mans race.

Existing GKN staff are thought to be relocating to the centre.

Phil Swash, chief executive of GKN Driveline, said: “Our new UK Innovation Centre will develop an array of next-generation technologies that will deliver significant benefits to electric vehicle, motorsport and off-highway applications.

“For electrified systems in particular, GKN’s expertise will help automakers to develop lighter, quieter and more efficient vehicles. “

He added: “I’m particularly pleased to launch this R&D facility in the UK. GKN is a global business but is proud of its UK roots.

“We are headquartered here, listed here and our divisions manufacture from 14 sites in the UK.

“This facility complements our global network and we are excited to start developing the automotive technologies of the future here in Abingdon.”