In 1957, Lotus debuted the Seven — an ultra-minimalistic sports car comprised of only the bare essentials needed to circle a racetrack. In 1972, after production ended, Caterham would purchase the rights to the 7, and has produced its own Caterham Seven models ever since, offering the vehicles in both turnkey and kit forms. And while the Caterham Seven has experienced some tremendous leaps and bounds in terms of performance and mechanics over the years, the British marque has now unveiled what’s undoubtedly the biggest technological leap ever made by the platform, with the new Caterham EV Seven.
Just like with the existing Ford Duratec-engined Seven models, the EV 7 aims to bestow the pure driver’s car with a fully electric powertrain without compromising the immensely-performance-focused nature of the Seven. To bring this ambitious project to life, the team at Caterham has partnered with the EV powertrain specialists at Swindon Powertrain Ltd, which has delivered a bespoke version of its HPDE E Axle motor. Used in place of the Seven’s standard Ford-supplied mills, these electric powertrains are housed in the existing Caterham Seven chassis. Swindon’s motors also make the EV Seven one of the most powerful models ever built by Caterham, with the EV 7 generating 179kW (240hp) and 516.3ft-lbs of torque.
The motor comes mated to a single-speed two-stage transmission with a bespoke gear ratio, and features a limited slip differential. Tipping the scales at around 1,500lbs — only 100lbs more than the gas Seven models — the EV 7 is capable of a 4-second 0-60mph time and (an estimated) top speed of 130mph. The vehicle also draws from an equally cutting-edge immersion-cooled 51kWh battery pack that can charge at up to speeds of 152kW, and, more importantly, utilizes a dielectric fluid in direct contact with the battery’s cells, ultimately allowing for markedly better thermal management during both charge and discharge cycles. The EV Seven has also been fitted with 13” Apollo alloy wheels shod in Avon ZZR rubber, rack-and-pinion steering, ventilated disc brakes bit by quad-pot calipers, and the same adjustable Bilstein suspension setup used on the Caterham Seven 420 CUP.
Slated to make its public debut later this summer at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the Caterham EV Seven currently exists as a one-off test mule and has no immediate plans to enter production — however, looming government regulations will likely change this reality at some point over the coming decade.