Flyweight carmaker knows it needs EVs to live on
High tech for car that launched before NASA
Caterham, the company that is best known for continuing the iconic Lotus Seven for all these years, is planning an electric model of the car known for weighing as much as a feather. Though the automaker and its new owners say the car is due in 2023, they still seem a long way from production reality.
“He’s determined to see this brand continue for another 50 years,” Caterham CEO Graham Macdonald told Autocar about Kazuho Takahashi, CEO of Caterham’s new owner VT Holdings.
Macdonald said that Takahashi knows Caterham doesn’t have endless resources, but that the new owners will help with stability, funding, and security for the brand moving forward. Importantly, that means funding a new electric Caterham Seven to keep the brand relevant moving forward.
The report says that the EV Seven (might we suggest SEVen?) will need to stay light and basic, and to help do that the automaker will leave out weight-adding features like regenerative braking. It probably won’t be as light as the petrol Seven, but the company will do its best. A prototype exists, which Macdonald has driven, and said that “It’s very much like a go-kart: it’s two-pedal, you’ve got rapid acceleration and it’s a different product to drive. No less exciting, but exciting in a different way.”
There’s plenty of work ahead, though. Caterham doesn’t yet have a partnership deal for electric vehicle batteries. Or for motors. Macdonald didn’t say where the company was looking but confirmed Caterham wouldn’t use another company’s skateboard chassis because that would lose the essence of the model.
Gas engines will stick around, as long as the company can find one that will work with their cars, an increasingly difficult challenge as the automaker does not want to move to turbocharging to maintain the feel of the brand.