Caterham has revealed an all-electric EV Seven concept to explore the potential for fitting its vehicles with electric technology. Working with Swindon Powertrain’s E Axle, the concept produces 240bhp at 9,000rpm and 250Nm of instant torque. This is expected to allow it to get up to 60mph in around 4.0 seconds. The EV Seven is also fitted with a limited slip differential, adjustable Bilstein dampers, regenerative braking and quad-piston brake calipers.
The aim of the project was to replicate the performance characteristics of the current model without sacrificing anything by going electric. This means electrification keeps the vehicle under 700kg by adding less than 70kg worth of kit. The overall design of the vehicle remains the same too as the battery is housed in the engine bay and transmission tunnel.
To make the battery technology suitable for use on the road and track it’s been designed for 20 minutes track driving, then 15 minutes of 152kW DC charging to get another 20 minutes worth of track time. The 51kWh battery is immersion cooled which means fluid is in direct contact with the cells to improve thermal management. This kind of battery cooling technology is generally found in super computers that get extremely hot.
Bob Laishley, CEO of Caterham, says: “Any future EV model we produce must be true to the DNA of a Caterham: lightweight, fun-to-drive and driver focused. The main objective for this project is to develop a vehicle with a weight delta of no more than the equivalent of having a passenger on board. We’re never going to launch a one tonne Seven – we’d rather not do it.”
“Building a Seven that’s capable of a Sunday morning drive is achievable with current battery technology, but the challenge is for track use where the energy consumption is greatly increased. At the moment, immersion battery cooling is one of the best solutions in terms of coping with the rapid charge and discharge cycles that would be experienced on a race track.”
Laishley says, “We do not have plans to put EV Seven into production at this stage - it’s a test bed to see how well an EV powertrain works for our customers’ specific use cases. We’re doing this project with our eyes wide open so that we can learn how to deliver the specific Caterham vehicle attributes necessary for a Seven. We’re going to bring this to market at the right time, when the future generation of battery technology allows it, and that’s why now is the time for us to trial the concept.”
The EV Seven concept is set to make its first public appearance at Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK this July. Caterham’s new new Chief Designer, Anthony Jannarelly is also leading the design of another fully electric sports car concept that will be revealed later in the year.