Going the extra mile

For Radical Sportscars, the summer of 2019 will go down as one of its most significant as it plays host to both a Royal visit from The Duke of Gloucester and the launch of its highly-anticipated new model, the Rapture

When Manufacturing Today Europe spoke to Darryl Roberts, Director of Operations of Radical Sportscars in late June 2019, we happened to catch him at an incredibly busy and exciting time for the Peterborough-based producer of racing and track cars. “Just last night I was attending the Insider Media ‘Made in UK Awards’ finals, which Radical Sportscars qualified for by picking up the Automotive Award for the Central and East region from it several months prior,” Darryl begins. “While we did not walk away with another prize on this occasion, it was great to be recognised and to be rubbing shoulders with such great company.”

There was little time, however, for Darryl to pause for breath upon his return, as he was then in the midst of preparing for an imminent Royal visit from The Duke of Gloucester, who will officially open the production centre for the company’s newest model, the Rapture. “Naturally, this will be a hugely exciting experience for everyone here at Radical Sportscars,” Darryl states. “We know that The Duke of Gloucester is a very technically minded individual himself, so having him in attendance to look around our premises and meet some of our talented people is an event of great importance to us.”

From there, the company turns its sights to the world-famous Goodwood Festival of Speed event in West Sussex where, on 4th July, it unveils its new Rapture model, a racing car that will be as at home on the road as it is on the track, and one that will usher in, what Radical Sportscars describes as, ‘a new generation of performance driving’. “Anticipation from customers for the Rapture has been extremely high in the build up to its launch, and we believe it will be something that really makes people sit up and take a fresh look at what we are capable of,” Darryl enthuses. “We have had a number of customers place orders for the car before even seeing an image of it, so we anticipate strong sales over the next 12 months, which we will be focusing on delivering.”

The launch of the Rapture culminates what has been a highly successful period of time for Radical Sportscars. “From an operational point of view, we have continued to grow our dealer network, increasing it by around 25 per cent to give us coverage in all parts of the world, and in 2018 we made a total of 144 cars, which was a five year high for us and a fantastic achievement by everyone involved,” Darryl continues. “Our efforts in this regard show that when our operations come together in a smooth manner – by which I mean that we have all the parts that we need, when we need them, that our bill of materials is working well, and we have fully trained people to put our cars together – then there is no reason why we cannot go that extra mile to achieve those sorts of volumes. At the same time, we continue to push for continuous improvement when it comes to the quality of our products, and the result has been that the cars that are coming out of our factory today are the best that they have ever been!”

Turning to the steps that the company has made internally to improve its overall operations, Darryl details various efforts being made to take Radical Sportscars to a higher level of performance. “From a manufacturing perspective, we are placing more emphasis on things like lean techniques, and in investing in areas such as our main assembly workshop and our composites body work department,” he says. “In the meantime, the development of our people remains of huge significance. Part of my work has been to assist in driving forward employee training, whether that be from a health and safety standpoint – where we have successfully reshaped the culture of the factory environment in order to install a great sense of order and awareness – or from a customer service angle, where we have been stressing the importance of that first customer touch point and beyond.”

Given the highly technical nature of Radical Sportscars work and the myriad of advanced systems that go into its cars – from fluid transfer technology to Formula 1 ‘style’ gearshift solutions, and everything in between – the company’s need for a strong, dependable supply chain is massive. Fortunately, forging good relationships with suppliers is in the company’s DNA. “In our field, you rely heavily on your supply chain,” Darryl states. “We are not a high-volume manufacturer, in that we are building around 130-to-150 cars per year, therefore we need suppliers that are nimble, have a first-rate speed of response and are happy to work closely with us at all times. Our focus on quality means that we place high expectations on our suppliers, which is why we only work with the very best.”

As far as what the immediate future holds for Radical Sportscars, Darryl’s personal mission is to see the company continue the growth journey it has been on in recent years. “Since coming into the company almost three years ago, I have been able to witness the development that has been made in terms of not only facilities and operating procedures, but also people and the overall quality of our products,” he points out. “For myself personally, I want to help to steer things on in this direction as we make the further improvements necessary of any forward-thinking company.

“More imminently, our focus as a business is making sure that the Rapture launches flawlessly. In anticipation, we have put this car through its paces and put it through more test miles that any previously, therefore it will launch as the most reliable vehicle that we have ever produced. From there, we have plans to develop another new car in the near future, and we will gather later in 2019 for our annual meeting to discuss our strategy for the next few years. So, as you can probably gather, this is a very exciting time for Radical Sportscars, and we look forward to what the future has in store.”

Radical Sportscars
Products: Racing cars