Norfolk engineers behind new Caterham sportscar
The future of Caterham Cars' association with Norfolk has been given a boost by the news that the Technology and Innovation team at Hingham will play a significant role in the production of a new sportscar.
In a joint venture with Renault the car manufacturer, which produces the iconic Seven, has signalled an expansion to its range of niche cars with the new sportscar described as delivering 'accessible fun' to new markets.
The new car will be built in Dieppe, France, benefitting from the plant's volume manufacturing capability. Production will remain in the UK, in Dartford, Kent, alongside the engineering expertise and facilities of Caterham F1 Team, based in Leafield, Oxfordshire, and Caterham Technology & Innovation at Hingham, which specialises in advanced concepts, lightweight structures, enhanced powertrains, control systems, advanced materials and manufacturing technologies.
Richard Tanner, a spokesman for Caterham, said the Norfolk team would play a 'massive' part in the engineering side of the operation.
'They will be working very closely with the engineers at Renault and forming a special engineering department to allow them to work more closely together.
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'There is definitely the potential for more jobs. This is the biggest thing to have happened to Caterham and the Technology and Innovation team are key players. We can't put numbers on it but it is looking very positive.
'There are two models in design which reflect the characterisitics of Renault and Caterham. It won't be as niche as the Seven, it will be more comfortable, more accessible and a vehicle that you can drive every day. There are also plans for a number of other vehicles down the line so this is only the start.'
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Currently more than 55 percent of the company's annual production is exported to over 26 countries including France, Germany, Italy, and Japan. The Group now employs over 500 people across the four arms of the business with 40 of those at Hingham.
Caterham Group Chairman, Tony Fernandes, said: 'This is a pivotal moment in the life of Caterham Cars. We have a rich heritage in performance and motorsport stretching back to the 1950s but, above all, a pedigree of producing cars that make you smile. I promise you, this car will make you smile. It will showcase all the Caterham magic and take our DNA of accessible fun to more people than ever before.'
Graham Macdonald, chief executive of Caterham Cars, said: 'With solid foundations, the future of Caterham Cars is very exciting. We have a plan. That plan will excite and delight enthusiasts and car buyers from around the globe. Our feet are firmly on the ground, but we're also signalling our intention to grow.'