With Malaysian-born Tony Fernandes as its new owner, it was only a matter of time before Caterham Cars set up a permanent residence in India – you see, despite being born in Kuala Lumpur, the Air Asia and Team Lotus boss’ late father was Indian.
The company chose to announce its new venture at this weekend’s inaugural Indian Grand Prix, coinciding with the moment when the world’s press is focusing on the region. That’s the Fernandes way, ever the markeeter.
The Caterham brand is being introduced to India with backing from brothers Gaurav and Mohit Burman, who will chair the Indian operation. The Burman family lead the Dabur Group, a major Indian consumer healthcare and food products company and the brothers, both of whom have keen sporting interests, relish the plans for racing and trackday activities that the Caterham India team will introduce and realise.
Operations will be led by British sportscar racer, Matt Cummings who is an experienced automotive and motorsport operator in the sector.
“I am looking forward to introducing the exhilarating driving experience of a Seven, both on the road and on the circuit, to the Indian enthusiast,” says Cummings. “One of the most exciting phases of our operation will be a fully Indian-assembled Seven, making Caterham the only road, race and track car assembled in India.”
Meanwhile, Caterham’s renowned CDX driving experience and grassroots motorsport series, the Caterham Academy, will begin operating in India from next year.
Caterham Cars chief executive, Ansar Ali, said: “We have been working for some time on establishing Caterham in India and we’re arriving in yet another new market for our brand at exactly the right time – just as the brand new Indian GP signals the arrival of Indian motorsport on the world stage.
“The potential of the Indian market for the Caterham brand is enormous so we are delighted to have knowledgeable and influential partners by our side for the journey ahead.”
Caterham Cars India will be focused on establishing the brand in anticipation of new products currently in development by Caterham Technology and Innovation (CTI), the engineering division recently created following the acquisition of Caterham Cars by Tony Fernandes.
CTI will be responsible for the development of a completely new line of accessible and affordable sportscars inspired by the lightweight, minimalist philosophy of the Seven and drawing on the advanced technologies and materials from the Group’s Team Lotus Formula One operations.
With this in mind, Caterham Cars India has also already ordered a demonstrator version of the Company’s new-for-2011 SP/300.R sports prototype racing car, with a view to expanding the product offering further to the Indian market.
The announcement of Caterham Cars India follows the launch of the brand in China in July and is the second new market for the Company since its change of ownership back in April. Team Lotus reserve driver, Karun Chandhok, is one of India’s top motorsport sportsmen.