Long known purely for manufacturing Lotus Seven continuation cars, Caterham could be following down Lotus’ path with a whole range of new products.
For all intents and purposes, there are two Lotus automakers. One is Lotus itself, and the other is known as Caterham. The latter's business is centered primarily around building the old Seven that Lotus doesn't make anymore, and was bought by Malaysian investor Tony Fernandes after rebranding what was the Lotus F1 team under the Caterham name. Now having signed a new deal with Renault, Fernandes has some big plans in store that are sounding eerily similar to what Lotus, also owned by Malaysian interests, recently put on hold.
For starters, Caterham (as we reported just yesterday) has teamed up with Renault, the same automaker that supplies its F1 engines, to build a new sportscar under the revived Alpine name. That could also serve as a halo car to top a new range of Caterham models that will extend far beyond the Seven (which could switch from Cosworth to Renault power as well) and the SP/300.R track car. Speaking with Autocar at the Renault deal announcement, Fernandes outlined plans to take Caterham from the fringe into the mainstream with the possibility of SUVs, city cars and more. "Whatever the market wants," according to Fernandes.
The Caterham boss pointed to Porsche as an example, but the plan sounds eerily similar to what ousted CEO Dany Bahar had planned for Lotus before its new owners put a stop to his ambitious array of seven new models. Whether the "other" Lotus can succeed where Lotus itself has failed, however, remains to be seen.