Caterham, the British builder of lightweight sportscars, has revealed a new electric concept car, the “Project V,” slated for 2026. And its specs look mighty familiar – not too far off from the original Tesla Roadster from 2008.
The announcement coincides with the Goodwood Festival of Speed, a yearly hillclimb race that has become one of the world’s largest assemblies of classic and high-end cars.
There are several fast electric cars out there, which are breaking all kinds of records, including at Goodwood itself. But most of these are either heavy or expensive, not really fitting the lightweight “driver’s car” paradigm which is so popular among enthusiasts.
Despite the modern electric car revolution beginning with the original 2008 Tesla Roadster, a lightweight electric sportscar built on a platform developed with Lotus Engineering, there has been a lack of lightweight electric sportscars since then. We’ve long wanted something like an electric Miata, but this hasn’t been forthcoming.
Well, now Caterham has stepped into the ring with something similar – though not quite in the same price range as that Miata we wanted.
Its new “Project V” concept is a lightweight electric coupe, in keeping with the lightweight Caterham DNA. The company is known for its super-lightweight “Seven” roadster, based off of the design of the original Lotus Seven, and is an extremely popular vehicle with enthusiasts for its handling and modifiability.
The Project V brings this focus on lightweight design into the modern electric car era, with a weight of just 1,190kg (2,623 lbs). That’s about 100 lbs less than the original Tesla Roadster, which, like Caterham, traces its origins back to Lotus DNA. And that’s not where the similarities end.
Where the Roadster had 248-288 horsepower (depending on configuration), the Caterham has 268hp – both rear-wheel drive. Where the Roadster had a 53kWh battery pack, the Caterham will have a 55kWh one. A 393km/244mi range becomes a ~400km/249mi range, and a 0-60 time of 3.9 seconds becomes a 0-62 time of ~4.5 seconds, but with a 29km/h (18mph) higher top speed.
And the Caterham has a composite body and carbon fiber and aluminum chassis, similar to the Roadster’s carbon fiber body and mostly aluminum chassis. Though the Caterham is significantly bigger, at 309mm longer, 20mm wider and 99mm taller than the Roadster was, and the wheels are 3 inches larger (19″ front, 20″ rear).
So, basically, it’s a Tesla Roadster. But new!
The Caterham has some notable and large improvements over the Roadster, though. For one, it has a third seat in the rear, placed in the center of the car, giving it a full 50% improvement over the number of seats in the Roadster. And it will even have an option for a 2+2 configuration, doubling the Roadster’s measly two.
And second, it has DC charging, something which the aging Roadster could never get (except through third-party aftermarket modifications). Caterham says the Project V’s battery will charge from 20-80% in 15 minutes on a 150kW charger, which would represent an impressive 132kW average charge rate on its 55kWh battery.
And clearly it looks different, with an aggressive and less angular exterior than the Tesla had, and a much less bare-bones interior, as far as we can tell from initial photos. It even has CarPlay! And power steering!
However, it’s also missing one thing the Roadster has – a convertible top. Clearly this coupe was designed in the rainy UK, and not sunny California. But hey, maybe they’ll come up with a roadster version in the future.
While Caterham is officially calling this a concept, the company states that it “could be brought to market” in late 2025/early 2026 at a rate of 2000 units per year. Caterham has a target price of “less than £80,000,” equivalent to $103k in US greenbacks (by comparison, the Tesla Roadster’s base price was $109k, without adjusting for inflation).
We’re being a little too glib here with all these comparisons, but hey, Brits are famous for their biting comedy, so we hope they can take it.
Besides, none of this is actually meant as a swipe at the Caterham. I own an early model, low-VIN Tesla Roadster, which is why all these comparisons immediately came to mind for me. It was and is my dream car, and it’s the vehicle that ignited my interest in electric cars which led me where I am today.
After driving it for so long, I have difficulty enjoying other cars, particularly any gas car, because my Roadster is such a fun, raw experience. It gives me a connection to the road and to my car’s performance in a way that nothing else out there does.
So it’s awesome to see another car out there that’s got a lot of that same spirit, but a few modernizations to smooth over the quirks in the bucket of bolts that I have always loved. We hope this car gets made, and I can’t wait to get in the driver’s seat and see how it compares.
While Tesla’s continuously-delayed next-gen Roadster update seems like it will be more of a hypercar chasing top speeds and track records, I think there’s room for a modern enthusiast’s EV, a true driver’s car, and the Caterham Project V might just fill that niche for people who know that what you really want is a quick car, not a fast one.
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