Talking to Autocar after the announcement of the firm’s tie-up with Renault to produce jointly a new sports car for sale by both brands, Fernandes revealed that the co-operation was only the first step in the partnership.
“This is just the start of the line on Caterham products,” said Fernandes. “I know it sounds ambitious in the extreme, but Porsche has to be my template.
“Look at what they have achieved, growing beyond a sports car firm with the Cayenne and Panamera. We expect our biggest success with the sports car to come in Asia, and that is a market that likes SUVs and city cars as well. If we can get the brand established there, then we have an opportunity.”
Fernandes said that he expects to work with Renault on future projects because of the cost savings that the joint venture offers but he stressed that the agreement did not preclude either party working with other partners, or alone.
To that end, Fernandes also confirmed a desire to build a hypercar when the firm had a range of more affordable cars on sale. Former F1 technical director and now boss of Caterham Technologies Mike Gascoygne confirmed that the project was under evaluation.
“Caterham has the motorsport know-how, the carbonfibre know-how, the dynamics and aerodynamic know-how to make it happen,” said Gascoyne. “My job is to essentially commercialise our motorsport involvement. Having a halo car that demonstrates our expertise would be one, very appealing way of doing that.”
Engineering and design work on the Caterham and Alpine sports cars is said to be well underway, with the project having begun long before last week’s formal announcement. Although sales are not due to begin until 2014 at the earliest, a concept car could appear within a year, said Gascoyne.
“The Alpine will be styled to invoke the A110, but at Caterham we will have a totally different look. The cars will look completely different.”