Bicycle technology is helping one of the most popular British sports cars lose weight.
The Caterham Seven 270 prototype uses butted tubing, ubiquitous in top-quality bicycles, to shave 10 percent off the weight of the car’s frame. Rather than straight cylinders, the new tubing is thicker at the ends and thinner in the middle, saving as much as 50 percent of material in certain areas. The prototype weighs a grand 1,190 pounds. For comparison’s sake, a Toyota Camry weighs about 3,200 pounds.
The carmaker plans to roll out the ultra-lightweight technology at the beginning of 2017, charging customers about $2,000 for the butted tubing. The high-end vehicles leverage their low weight to achieve fast acceleration and efficient mileage. Yet despite the lighter frame, the 270 prototype matches more traditional versions of the vehicle in torsional rigidity, so you aren’t sacrificing safety for speed.
The new design also opens the door to even greater weight savings. The current version uses high tensile tubing, but the car’s engineers expect they will find better materials soon. It’s not known what the floor is for a lightweight sports car, but Caterham is clearly trying to push it lower. The 1,0000-pound car is now in their sights, and we don’t expect them to stop until they get there.
To cull the extra pounds, Caterham called in the bicycle tubing pros at Reynolds Technology to guide the engineering process, and a computer-aided engineering consultancy firm Simpact provided the planning and digital firepower to design the prototype. Funded through an Innovate UK grant, the three British teams created a uniquely nationalist product. After all, you don’t see many Americans bragging about how many pounds their car has lost.