|Legal status||Not for profit company|
|Purpose/focus||Providing world class engineering services to global automotive and transport industries|
|Location||Nuneaton, Warwickshire, United Kingdom|
MIRA Ltd. (formerly the Motor Industry Research Association) is an automotive consultancy company headquartered near Nuneaton in Warwickshire, United Kingdom. It provides product engineering, research, testing, information and certification services to the automotive sector.
It was formed in 1946 and was mostly government-funded. It is based just off the A5 near the junction with the A444 in the parish of Higham on the Hill (also near Fenny Drayton), Leicestershire, where around five hundred staff work, with another establishment in Basildon in Essex. The company dates back to the foundation of the Cycle Engineers' Institute (CEI) in 1898, which became the Incorporated Institution of Automobile Engineers (IAE) in 1906. The IAE became the Automotive Branch of the IMechE in 1946. The IAE and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders were largely responsible for creating MIRA.
Pooling of expertise
After World War Two, the UK car industry was finding it difficult to export to countries where it formerly had little trouble finding markets for its wide range of cars. It was decided by the government to pool the research resources of UK car manufacturers into one site to reduce costs and possibly find new technological advances sooner that could be incorporated into all ranges of UK vehicle makes. The principal auto-makers were located in the Birmingham area, apart from Vauxhall which had its factory in Luton and Ford which by now was located at Dagenham to the east of London. The Motor Industry Research institution under its director Dr Albert Fogg (who would later become Engineering Chief at British Leyland) therefore looked for a location that was reasonably accessible from all these locations, and the site near Nuneaton fulfilled that criterion. The facilities became available to MIRA member companies in October 1948, though at this stage the test tracks consisted only of disused runways. Facilities were nevertheless developed under Dr Fogg and Professor Robert MacMillan who took over the directorship from Fogg in 1964.
Marking the increasing concern with secondary safety at the time was the opening by the Minister of Technology Tony Benn, in April 1968, of MIRA's indoor rig for crash-testing cars in head-on impacts. Such tests, at 30 mph (48 km/h), had recently become mandatory for cars sold in the US. The MIRA crash rig featured the UK's largest industrial linear motor. It replaced a complicated outdoor system that had involved the "victim" car's final seconds being controlled by means of a radar-operated remote device from a following vehicle.
Since 1975, the funding arrangements for belonging to the organisation went from a membership subscription (or levy – mostly irrespective of the quantity of work that took place for individual manufacturers) for car companies to a fee-based system. Currently the site has around £110 million of test equipment. On 4 July 2001, the organisation changed its name to MIRA Ltd. At this point it also became liable for corporation tax. It bought the Creative Automotive Design consultancy in March 2003.
The proving ground which forms the largest area of MIRA is built on 760 acres (308 ha) of the former RAF Lindley airfield, named after the nearby Lindley Hall Farm after the former Lindley Hall. This farm claims to be the centre of England, if calculated by the centre of mass method, similar to a centroid. Meriden also makes a similar claim. The Ashby and Nuneaton Joint Railway used to pass along the south-east perimeter of MIRA, and is now the Weddington Country Walk. The line was open to freight until 1971, and had a station at Higham on the Hill on the perimeter of MIRA.
MIRA is a provider of product engineering, research, testing, information and certification to the worldwide automotive industry. It was developed to provide research for UK companies but now provides research to clients worldwide. It also carries out work for the defence industry.