Joint venture to develop SUV and subcompact for Caterham

Article by Christian Andrei, on July 8, 2013

A joint venture between Caterham and Renault will develop a Caterham-branded sports utility vehicle and a subcompact car, according to Caterham chairman Tony Fernandes. Fernandes disclosed before a board meeting of the joint venture Societe des Automobiles Alpine Caterham (SAAC) that the new models may be rolled out right after the launch of first sports car under the Caterham and Renault Alpine brands in 2016.

Renault unveiled the joint sports car program with Caterham in November 2012. At the same time, Renault announced a deal to sell its Dieppe plant to Fernandes, thereby creating the Alpine Caterham venture. Caterham and Renault seek to use their Formula One presence to attract customers for their performance vehicles.

Fernandes acquired Caterham in 2011 and controls the Formula One team bearing the same name, which is powered by Renault engines. Fernandes told Reuters in an interview that while sports cars “will do well,” the Asian market really wants city cars and SUVs. He noted that if they get the “SUV right, it will be huge." He said that Caterham seeks to emulate the success of the Range Rover Evoque, which sales have boosted profit for Jaguar Land Rover and parent Tata Motors.

Fernandes said that the new Caterham models would be based on Renault vehicles and would be shipped in semi-finished form for final assembly in Asia. He added that Renault may decide later to offer its own Alpine versions.

Renault confirmed to Reuters it was conducting a "feasibility study" with Caterham on the new vehicles." A spokeswoman for Renault said the new models are a project for the Caterham brand “based on a Renault platform and destined for Asian markets.” She noted that there is currently no plan to extend the project to Alpine." [source: cars.ro]

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