“We may be a small voice now, but we’re on our way to engineering a decent set of lungs,” said Tony Fernandes, Caterham Group Co-Chairman, as he outlined his ambitions for Caterham Cars ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix (Friday 20th September).
Speaking at the launch of Caterham’s first new ultra-performance model, the AeroSeven Concept, Fernandes was sharing his vision for the brand.
“Caterham will show itself to be a progressive, open and entrepreneurially powered car brand that will deliver and surprise in equal measure.
“It has been a British institution for the last 40 years, and automotive secret in many ways, but in the very near future, the Caterham name will sit proudly on crossovers, city cars as well as a range of sportscars for everyone,” he added.
In the two years since Fernandes and Caterham Group Co-Chairman and business partner, Dato’ Kamarudin Meranun, bought Caterham Cars, the brand has expanded to include a growing engineering arm in Caterham Technology & Innovation, a specialist composites materials consultancy, Caterham Composites and the Oxfordshire, England based, Caterham F1 Team and Caterham Racing GP2 team.
Tony Fernandes confirmed that whilst the brand will include mainstream crossovers and small cars, the intention is to also extend its ‘sporting heartbeat’ with a range of accessible sportscars for the lifestyle buyer to the thrill-seeker; a journey it has begun with the new AeroSeven Concept.
Asia will be a key focus for Caterham as it develops a product range to meet the demands of a market both Fernandes and Kamarudin know extremely well.
“Twelve years ago, we were told our plans for AirAsia could not work,” said Fernandes. “Today, AirAsia is the world’s most profitable airline with a growing fleet of over 120 planes servicing 160 routes across 80 cities in 18 countries, carrying over 25m people annually. As proud winner of the title “World’s Best Low Cost Airline” for the past five years, we’re fulfilling our dream that ‘everyone can fly’.”
Fernandes says that the same passion to succeed, and learn from within, is being applied to building the Caterham Cars brand.
“The Joint Venture with Renault to produce an all-new sportscar for both the Alpine and Caterham brands demonstrates our clear intent on doing this right, doing it sensibly, but above all, doing it the Caterham way,” he added.
“And because we’re a flat company, we’re a quicker company. When we say we’re going to do things internally, we do them. We don’t procrastinate and lose momentum through legions of middle-management decision makers, we just do it.
“Add the culture of our F1 team in terms of nimbleness and the discipline to deliver in detail against a ticking clock and we have something very special within Caterham.”
At this stage, Fernandes is unwilling to be drawn on the number of cars Caterham is aiming to sell, explaining: “We’re focused on developing the right products; with the right retail experience, in the right markets, at the right time. The sales will then come.”
The arrival of the AeroSeven Concept brings the number of new models brought to market by Caterham since the turn of the year to four.
After years of underinvestment to its heritage product, the Seven, Caterham launched the 485 to satisfy pent up demand for a higher performance variant across Europe, a new flagship 620R to once again remind every supercar brand that there is nothing to equal the sensation of driving a Seven, and finally, for the Global market, the entry-level, Suzuki powered165.