Recently, Malaysian airline billionaire Tony Fernandes purchased track-day carmaker Caterham, which is based in the UK. After having lost the bid to buy Lotus, Fernandes is eager to push Caterham forward into new automotive territories.
Caterham, pronounced “kay-trim,” is most well known for its iconic Caterham 7 track-day open-top two-seater, which has been in production since 1973.
Word has now come from Autocar that Caterham has entered a joint venture with Renault to build a “fun-related” sports car. Underneath, the two models will be virtually identical. On the exterior, however, the two will be drastically different, each molding the body to fit within the brand aesthetics.
Aware that in order to become a profitable modern automaker, Caterham must expand beyond two-seaters and enter a more mass market with SUVs and the like. Why on earth is Caterham eager to expand its lines? Current Caterham CEO is none other than Mike Gascoyne, former Formula One team boss. Simply put: Caterham wants to expand so it can make money. And why does it want to make money? So the company can fill its coffers and fund its F1 team. Typical automakers, like Mercedes, have an F1 team because they sell profitable SUVs, not the other way round.
Caterham is at least moderately realistic, though. It realizes it won’t be a household brand anytime soon. Caterham is eager, however, to use Fernandes’ connections in Asia to open the brand up there. The Asian auto market is expanding rapidly, and if executed correctly could spell success for the virtually unknown automaker. We’re quite eager to see what future Caterham creations will look like, and we’ll be sure to keep you posted once we learn more.