Just about a year ago the official news came down that Caterham Cars had been passed on to new owners, and that the company would no longer be owned by Tony Fernandes. VT Holdings of Japan purchased the Lotus Seven clone manufacturer at the end of March 2021, and it couldn’t have gone better for them. As it happens, VT Holdings pushed Caterham Cars to its best sales year in the company’s history.
How many cars do you have to sell to set a new record? Well, as it happens Caterham sells significantly fewer cars per year than, say, Toyota does. The little lightweight British sports car found a whopping 670 new owners in 2021. That beat’s the company’s previous unit sales record by three whole cars (667 cars sold in 2016, apparently). In 2019, however, pre-pandemic levels of sales were petering off and the company only managed to get 442 buyers to sign on the line that is dotted.
What drove all of this increase in demand? Well, for one thing people realized during the depths of the pandemic [which still is not over] that life is short and money is just a number in a computer. With reduced travel schedules and increased staying-at-home-ness, many blue collar and higher workers ended up with a lot more money in the bank than they had before COVID-19 was discovered. So as lockdown restrictions eased around the world, they spent it. And Caterham reaped the rewards.
A brand new dealer in Portugal helped propel the company to a new high watermark, selling a whopping 22 cars in that country. According to the company’s report more than a third of its cars stayed in the UK market, and Japan has typically been the second largest Caterham market. Here in the U.S. an impressive 49 well-heeled drivers ordered a new Kay-trum.
The company’s new ultra-light Suzuki-powered 170 model certainly helped kick off some growth, but Caterham says the mid-level 420 model remained its best seller.
I contend that this world would be a better place if more people drove Caterhams, so this is probably a good thing. Here’s hoping the company manages to grow into a global sales superpower.