British manufacturer Caterham wants to enter into additional joint ventures with major automakers as part of its plan to expand its product range to include new areas like crossovers and city cars, according to Chairman Tony Fernandes. Caterham was bought by Fernandes and business partner Kamarudin Meranun in March 2011.
The AeroSeven Concept, which was newly unveiled, is the first stage in a three-pronged approach that will incorporate traditional Seven-based models, contemporarily styled cars like the production version of the AeroSeven and the sports car that’s jointly developed with Renault, as well as more practical vehicles.
Fernandes, who also owns the AirAsia airline, said that he will see Caterham wander away from its sports car base, with the new cars merging sharp handling attributes with an appeal that’s more wide-ranging. However, he thinks that to fulfil his plan, it has to be trough joint ventures. He shared that when AirAsia began, they had to lease planes because they couldn’t afford new ones.
He explained that with a car joint venture, it would be like leasing other people’s technology by sharing platforms and utilizing factories that were already built. As an example, he cited that he will be able to save “hundreds of millions of pounds in tooling” by having 90% of the assembly of a crossover built in a factory owned by another automaker that already rolls out crossovers.
By doing so, it can be kept affordable. Fernandes said that Caterham will infuse its distinct identity into any new models to guarantee that they have “lightweight, fun” characteristics. What Caterham aims for is to let people know as soon as they get in the car that they’re driving a Caterham. [source: autocar]