Prototype will be shown before the end of the year
21 October 2009

Caterham has started development of hybrid and electric powertrains for its cars, and will unveil a prototype before the end of this year.

Speaking at the Tokyo show, where the firm is one of only three non-Japanese manufacturers exhibiting, Caterham boss Ansar Ali said that the EV programme was live, and would begin with a motorsport application.

“We’re looking first and foremost at motorsport, which we see as a testbed for the technology,”he said.

Caterham is buying in a hybrid drivetrain from another manufacturer, which it can fit to its existing engines. The electric drivetrain is also supplied from an external source, although Ali would not reveal the origin of either system.

The firm wants to start a one-make race series in 2011 using the electric/hybrid car, and it will use the findings from the competition to develop a road car for around 2012.

“We’ve been told by our suppliers that the Caterham layout is good for an electric car – there’s a lot of space under the bonnet,” said Ali. He also revealed that an electric Seven shouldn’t suffer any weight penalty, as the system under consideration should weigh the same as a petrol engine, gearbox and rear axle, and that its performance should be equal to any other Caterham.

Ali also admitted that Caterham is unsure whether or not an alternatively powered Caterham would be a success. “We don’t know if our customer base will be receptive, but by 2012 things may have changed,” he said.

Dan Stevens

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Comments
5

21 October 2009

Silent Sevens. The future just got bleaker.

PaulJ

21 October 2009

Would be cool. would like to see them racing in a single make series.

21 October 2009

Scalextric sevens! Should be fun.

21 October 2009

Hope I die before electric cars become the norm.

22 October 2009

Hmmm, I used to think that, until I and few mates booked the local indoor go kart place for an evening. They use electric go karts which sounds crap but the reality was they were faster and handled better than equivelant petrol karts.

Electric motors = instant torque. You hit the peddle and they go, instantly. A huge amount of fun. So although I'm not a convert to electric vehicles yet, I can see where Caterham might be coming from.

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