“Porsche is without doubt my vision for Caterham in the longer term. [The joint venture with Renault] is the start of a line of products - city cars and crossovers come to mind - and Porsche set a great template.”
Mindful of what happened to Lotus - which has damaged its brand greatly thanks to overly ambitious and ultimately flawed expansion plans - Fernandes is still convinced that Caterham can massively increase its volumes from the current 450-500 performance cars it sells every year.
The Caterham version of the two-seater, rear-wheel-drive Alpine joint venture will launch in 2015, albeit with “very different visuals”. However, it’s after this that Fernandes' ambitious plans will really take hold. “Our playground is Asia, where the Porsche Cayenne and also the Panamera are really successful.”
Fernandes’ ambition is key to driving Caterham forward. Talking of the arrangement of the joint venture, he said: “We went out [to find a partner] and no-one would give us the time of day. But through F1, our relationship with Renault grew. We’re a tiny car maker vis a vis Renault so it’s great credit to our team that it’s a full 50:50 equal partnership.”
While the joint venture car will cost around £40,000, Caterham is also keen to build a halo supercar which features its know-how in terms of composites and KERS tech, which it has refined from its F1 team.
Caterham Cars boss Graham MacDonald added that he’d love to build a supercar. “A car that features F1 technology and Caterham DNA is the dream, but that’s not what the initial product will be.”
The evergreen Caterham Seven will continue, but a switch to Renault engines is likely once the current Ford units reach the end of their lifespan.