Currently reading: Callum Skye: Jaguar F-Type designer reveals EV off-roader
Design group to launch hardcore electric off-roader as limited-run production model

An exclusive electric off-roader called Callum Skye, branded by its creators “the world’s most beautiful high-performance multi-terrain vehicle”, is being launched by the Warwick-based design group formed and fronted by Jaguar’s legendary former design boss, Ian Callum.

The Skye, the first prototype of which is expected to be running in the spring, is a compact twin-motor, all-wheel drive, two-door creation. It is the Callum company’s first own-brand vehicle, designed and engineered entirely in-house.

It has a target weight of just 1150kg, 50:50 weight distribution and a road footprint very similar to that of a Renault Clio, with an overall length of just over 4.0 metres and a width of 1.9 metres.

The Skye’s bold shape, which the company says is driven by its capabilities, is based on a strong “accent loop” surrounding the door apertures, with a horizontal body structure running through the whole car and providing mountings for the two large doors, which are glazed below the waistline as well as above it.

There’s space inside for a pair of occasional rear passengers. Ian Callum led the design work but credits Aleck Jones, a digital modeller, and the company’s expanding, five-strong supporting design group for much of the Skye’s sophisticated look.

The Callum company’s total staff now runs to more than 20 people, although Ian Callum says the firm’s intention is always to remain “small and agile”.

As the first all-new Callum model, the Skye succeeds successful programmes unveiled since the company’s 2019 formation, including a highly individualistic reinterpretation of the 2001 Aston Martin Vanquish (an Ian Callum original), a string of impressive forays into product design and some still-secret collaborative projects.

As well as Ian Callum, the company’s well-proven principals include managing director David Fairbairn and head of engineering Adam Donfrancesco.

The Callum partners believe the Skye’s compactness and light weight will deliver genuine high performance: they promise both a sub 4.0sec 0-60mph time and a range of around 170 miles from a relatively modest 42kWh battery.

No specification has yet been revealed for Skye’s twin-motor layout, but Donfrancesco is understood to have several promising suppliers under review.

The chassis is a rugged steel spaceframe with plenty of ground clearance and travel for its bespoke all-independent suspension, and it supports a composite body.

The partners want the Skye, which they believe occupies a new place in the car market, to be as comfortable and refined on road as off it and to be considerably quieter and more refined than petrol- or diesel-powered rivals.

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It is possible, however, that a more “raw and focused” off-road version will be made later, to meet customer demand.

The Skye is also likely to be offered with the option of a battery capable of ultrafast charging – from empty to full in just 10 minutes.

The plan is an evident nod to a partnership Callum already has with Nybolt, the Cambridge-based advanced battery maker that promises light weight and long life from its lithium-ion batteries, as well as very fast charging.

The two firms recently collaborated on a futuristic reworking of the original Lotus Elise to showcase the potential of this technology. If things go according to plan, the Callum company wants to make as many as 50 Skyes at its Warwickshire facility.

No price has yet been calculated, but it is understood the partners are aiming at around £100,000 as a target figure. 

Q&A with Ian Callum, Callum's design chief

Did you consider a sports car as your first own-brand product?

“We did but decided it would be a bit predictable. We settled on something that would show our versatility, and that we’re about all kinds of vehicles, not just one.”

How many Skyes will you make?

“Clearly it depends on demand, but it’ll be dozens, not hundreds. We’re funding the first prototype ourselves, so we have four or five months’ hard work ahead to get it on the road.”

Will you make more bespoke Callum cars?

"That’s our intention. The Vanquish project was something we did to prepare ourselves for the phase that starts with Skye, doing our own projects. We don’t want just to be an agency for other brands. We have a way of creating simple but beautifully crafted cars with special detail design.”

Would you do the next one in bigger numbers?

“There’s lots to do before we get to that kind of decision, but if things go well we could imagine making our own cars in batches of up to 1000. David, Adam and I have been doing this car creation thing together for quite a few years. It’s not a mystery to us; we know our capabilities.”

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Electric cars are usually heavy. How are you keeping the weight so low?

What we’ve quoted is a target, but we’re confident we can get close to it by simplifying the design and controlling the weight of every component very closely. This will be a simple machine, beautifully built. Our mantra is ‘minimum mass, maximum capability’.”

Steve Cropley

Steve Cropley Autocar
Title: Editor-in-chief

Steve Cropley is the oldest of Autocar’s editorial team, or the most experienced if you want to be polite about it. He joined over 30 years ago, and has driven many cars and interviewed many people in half a century in the business. 

Cropley, who regards himself as the magazine’s “long stop”, has seen many changes since Autocar was a print-only affair, but claims that in such a fast moving environment he has little appetite for looking back. 

He has been surprised and delighted by the generous reception afforded the My Week In Cars podcast he makes with long suffering colleague Matt Prior, and calls it the most enjoyable part of his working week.

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Commenter 24 November 2023
Closest to a Jeep hurricane concept you can buy and drive