Sports car maker Caterham is a small UK company best known for selling modernized versions of the legendary Lotus Seven, a racecar-turned-road car first produced in 1957, legendary for its light weight and affordability. When Lotus discontinued the Seven in 1973, Caterham bought the rights and has been iterating on that original idea for over 50 years now. The Caterham Seven is famous for being one of the purest enthusiast driving experiences available anywhere in the world, while maintaining an entry price that's still very attainable for many. That is, if you can stomach a raucous open-air race car with no doors, barely a windshield and a leaky tent for a roof.
The Project V is something very different then. Not only does it have a doors, and windshield AND a roof, it's a proper road car, designed from the ground-up and intended to be fully electric from the start. It's a statement of intent from Caterham, who appear determined to carry their ideals of pure, lightweight, fun-to-drive cars into the electric era.
The Project V is powered by a 200kW (272PS) single motor mounted in the rear axle, paired with a 55kWh USOC lithium-ion battery pack. Caterham says it will charge from 20-80% in as little as 15 minutes using a 150kW DC Fast charger. It acceleration of 0-62mph (100kph) in less than 4.5 seconds, and will reach an estimated top speed of 143mph. Caterham estimates a WLTP range of 249 miles (400km).
What's particularly impressive though is the weight. With a target of just over 2,600 lbs, the Project V would be lighter than a gasoline-powered 2023 Mini Cooper. That's seriously impressive for an electric vehicle.
Bob Laishley, CEO of Caterham Cars Ltd and COO of the newly established Caterham EVo, said: “Project V is not just a concept or design study, we’ve conducted engineering and production feasibility throughout the development process. An electric Caterham of any shape and size has to stay true to what sets us apart from everyone else: being lightweight, simple and offering an unparalleled driving experience; that’s our DNA.”
He added: “Project V fulfils our ambition to sustainably grow the company and explore electrification simultaneously. Subject to the next phases of development and technical capability, Project V could be brought to market towards the end of 2025 or early 2026 with a target price starting from less than £80,000.”
What does it mean to be simple in the electric era? The Project V features a "2+1" layout, or 2-seater with a single rear seat in the middle. A 2+2 layout is said to be optional. The infotainment is a screen for phone mirroring, and that's about it. Behind the race-inspired wheel is an instrument panel very much in the old tradition. The car does feature 3 drive modes; Normal, Sport and Sprint, that will intelligently adjust the car's acceleration and steering.
The car's sports-focused bonafides continue in the suspension, where double wishbones front and rear suspension have fully adjustable geometry. Electrically assisted power steering, Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres, and brake discs all-round with high-performance calipers round out the package.
Here at EV.Guide we don't usually highlight cars until they're confirmed for sale on our North American shores, but we do like to highlight any EVs that are embracing FUN, and concerning themselves with the joy of driving. We really like what we see from Caterham, and we hope their ethos continues to thrive in the EV era.