RE: All-electric Caterham Seven promised

RE: All-electric Caterham Seven promised

Thursday 13th May

All-electric Caterham Seven promised

Emboldened by new ownership, Caterham starts to consider a brave new world...



Caterham says it is developing an all-electric Seven to join its line-up from 2023, as the firm attempts to adapt to incoming emissions and safety regulations. The car is said toย retain the ethos and look of its petrol-powered Seven,ย but uses batteries and an electric motor provided by another OEM. The two-pedal model will likely deliver 620R-grade straight-line performance.ย 

Speaking to Autocar, Caterham's CEO, Graham Macdonald, said the car will be โ€œvery much like a go-kart,โ€ with โ€œrapid accelerationโ€. He accepted that itโ€™ll be โ€œa different product to driveโ€, but emphasised that itโ€™ll be โ€œno less exciting, but [instead] exciting in a different wayโ€. Apparently, new owner VT Holdingsย is supportive of the idea of an EV Caterham to ensure the survival of the brand โ€œfor another 50 yearsโ€. In 2023, the company will officially reach its first half a century.

No less significant is the hiring ofย former Nissan Global Sportscar programme director, Bob Laishley, as its new Chief Strategy Officer. Laisley is an industry heavyweight who spent more than 25 years at Nissan, some of it spent overseeing the GT-R and Z car projects. His appointment, the first made under the new owner, succinctly spells out the importance of near-term strategy for Caterham's immediate health.ย 


"Caterham is a very special brand, with a very special product that has been a benchmark for handling and performance, so it was not a difficult decision to take up the offer from Takahashi-san and the board at VT Holdings," explained Laishley. "The first priority is to protect and develop the Seven so that it can continue to meet the expectations of our customer base in the immediate years."

He added: "Yes, I have ideas, but so do the team. We're now focused on appraising those collectively and building a clear roadmap for the business for the next decade. The Caterham DNA of lightness and fun is unique in the automotive world and that's the key ingredient on which we will sensibly build."

Quite how the introduction of an EV variant will fit into this roadmap is not yet clear given the packaging issues associated with integrating batteries into the Seven's spaceframe - but Caterham's CEO plainly feels like the model is necessary for the company to thrive in the future. The thought of a silent, torque-addled Seven is an intriguing one, but the firm has plenty on its plate with the mandatory integration of cameras and radars required by incoming EU safety legislation to worry about. Laisley's inbox must've been brimmed on day one.



Author
Discussion

Bracken

Original Poster:

43 posts

206 months

Thursday 13th May
quotequote all
A big part of the fun of all the seven-type cars I've run is (obviously) the noise and the vibrations - you can't drive everywhere flat out and use the acceleration all the time but when you can't the pops, crackles and blare of the exhaust inches from your ear always puts a smile on your face and gives a thrill that any other performance car, for me, hasn't got close to touching.

An EV just doesn't have that and a large part of the joy will be gone. cry

The world is changing and I don't like it.

Equus

11,392 posts

69 months

Thursday 13th May
quotequote all
woohoo

A quarter of a century later than the competition, but somebody has finally woken up and smelled the coffee?!

They NEED this, to survive.

I know one or two people on this forum who are going to be terribly upset, though. hehe

mooseracer

1,004 posts

138 months

Thursday 13th May
quotequote all
Equus said:
woohoo

A quarter of a century later than the competition, but somebody has finally woken up and smelled the coffee?!

They NEED this, to survive.

I know one or two people on this forum who are going to be terribly upset, though. hehe
A quarter of a century late? Huh?
I don't think all their competition were committing to an EV future back in 96 were they?


essayer

7,380 posts

162 months

Thursday 13th May
quotequote all
This will be immense, can’t wait

deadscoob

2,175 posts

228 months

Thursday 13th May
quotequote all
It’s not about waking up it’s about removing a few of the fundamental elements that entice owners to the brand, sensory overload and lightweight agility. Remove that and what is left to make you spend that much money on one?
It’ll be quick for sure, but heavy, no real sensory enjoyment outside the Electric grunt. It just becomes a small normal car.
That’s over simplifying it a bit but like any vehicle like this, electric power won’t help them survive because it’s replacing a core part of their appeal with something unappealing.

Pro EV people will disagree but in the main they’re not the customer base for these cars anyway.

Tye Green

126 posts

77 months

Thursday 13th May
quotequote all
"The Caterham DNA of lightness and fun is unique in the automotive world apart from Westfield, Tiger, MK, MNR, Radical, Aerial......"

Still, interesting to see further development though I'm not sure that without ICE it will be as much fun.


Equus

11,392 posts

69 months

Thursday 13th May
quotequote all
mooseracer said:
A quarter of a century late? Huh?
I don't think all their competition were committing to an EV future back in 96 were they?
Committing to, no. Experimenting with, yes.

Google 'Westfield WiSPER' (contrived acronym: Westfield in Structural Plastics Electric Roadster), which had a composite monocoque tub as well as being electrically powered (guess we'll need to give Caterham another quarter of a century to catch up with that...).




uremaw

293 posts

165 months

Thursday 13th May
quotequote all

I built and ran a Caterham for 4 years. Loved the noise, vibrations and drama of the thing, but probably wouldn't have another. It's an itch thats been scratched. An EV version though is a different story - instead of bemoaning it as a Caterham minus the noise, i'd consider it an EV but with the style, handling and excitement of a Caterham. If they can secure the rights to the Elise chassis and share the EV platform across both models, I think they'll be on to a winner. I'd certainly be tempted.

Jon_S_Rally

1,070 posts

56 months

Thursday 13th May
quotequote all
It's certainly going to be interesting to see what an electric Caterham is like.

What depresses me almost as much as forcing these small companies to go electric is forcing them to fit cameras and all that other junk. It's a shame we decided to follow the EU down that path, even though we don't really need to.

For cars like this, I really don't think it's necessary, and is just going to risk putting these small companies out of business.

paulrockliffe

12,491 posts

195 months

Thursday 13th May
quotequote all
How is the weight likely to be impacted, does anyone know?

If that isn't too much different, you might be able to do interesting things with weight distribution, 4 wheel drive and torque vectoring, or perhaps you could quick release some of the batteries to let you match the weight to the journey length.

What's interesting with this is that if the justification for EV is CO2 emissions then the elephant in the room is weight - What's the CO2 impact of the journey and what's the CO2 impact of carrying around all the rubbish that modern cars come with. Caterham style cars don't have that issue and are arguably closer to some fo the cars of the future - Small and light.

Ian974

2,408 posts

167 months

Thursday 13th May
quotequote all
IMO, the engines in caterhams have generally been "functional", rather than especially desirable (except the k series, which was often neither tongue out )

I'd imagine an ICE will still be available for as long as other manufacturers are building them, but they've been putting 660cc 3 pots in them for a few years now as well. I could see an electric one being entertaining in its own manner.

cerb4.5lee

19,649 posts

148 months

Thursday 13th May
quotequote all
Equus said:
I know one or two people on this forum who are going to be terribly upset, though. hehe
I'm just about to climb a ladder onto my roof so I can jump off it! hehe

It just doesn't get any worse than this for me.

I'm done with cars now for sure. cry


jet_noise

4,648 posts

150 months

Thursday 13th May
quotequote all
I'd be very surprised if it does handle like a Caterham.
Batteries are heavy. Car is not designed to be electric so batteries'll not be readily sited in helpful places - low and central.
Unless they are tiny then range'll be poor also.
Just enough juice to get to the track then, bugger!

One thing in their favour - these are usually bought as, at least, a 2nd car so the owner'll already have alternative means of going on holiday/other long distance journey.

EggsBenedict

1,636 posts

142 months

Thursday 13th May
quotequote all
Jon_S_Rally said:
What depresses me almost as much as forcing these small companies to go electric is forcing them to fit cameras and all that other junk. It's a shame we decided to follow the EU down that path, even though we don't really need to.

For cars like this, I really don't think it's necessary, and is just going to risk putting these small companies out of business.
Yes. It's a bit off-topic, but the huge burden from new regs like this basically assumes no new car manufacturers in the EU, and is crippling to smaller ones.

EggsBenedict

1,636 posts

142 months

Thursday 13th May
quotequote all
jet_noise said:
I'd be very surprised if it does handle like a Caterham.
Batteries are heavy. Car is not designed to be electric so batteries'll not be readily sited in helpful places - low and central.
Unless they are tiny then range'll be poor also.
Just enough juice to get to the track then, bugger!
Caterham will be banking on faster charge technologies for sure.

uremaw

293 posts

165 months

Thursday 13th May
quotequote all
jet_noise said:
I'd be very surprised if it does handle like a Caterham.
Batteries are heavy. Car is not designed to be electric so batteries'll not be readily sited in helpful places - low and central.
The entire engine bay of a caterham is low and central! Fill that with batteries, ditch the gearbox, tank and diff, then chuck a couple of motors in the back and you'll have something fast, planted and significantly lighter and more exciting that any mainstream EV.

Cold

11,335 posts

58 months

Thursday 13th May
quotequote all
CEO said:
Caterham DNA
confused They don't have any DNA of their own. It's all adopted.

stavr0ss

71 posts

96 months

Thursday 13th May
quotequote all
For me the trick to making an electric caterham exciting would be to have two throttle pedals, one powering each rear wheel...

GR_WILL

680 posts

46 months

Thursday 13th May
quotequote all
Cold said:
CEO said:
Caterham DNA
confused They don't have any DNA of their own. It's all adopted.
Caterham Donated/Nicked Architecture?

Electro1980

2,776 posts

107 months

Thursday 13th May
quotequote all
uremaw said:
jet_noise said:
I'd be very surprised if it does handle like a Caterham.
Batteries are heavy. Car is not designed to be electric so batteries'll not be readily sited in helpful places - low and central.
The entire engine bay of a caterham is low and central! Fill that with batteries, ditch the gearbox, tank and diff, then chuck a couple of motors in the back and you'll have something fast, planted and significantly lighter and more exciting that any mainstream EV.
It seems like a good car for it. This is really getting silly people talking about the noise cars make. Baring a few specials (blackbird, JPE) they have rather ordinary 4pot engines, which is part of the point.

I’m more concerned about the regulations making small manufacturers add things like cameras.