Caterham Seven butted tubingCaterham will make a world-first space frame chassis using racing bicycle ‘butted tubing’ technology as part of an ultra-lightweight car development project.

Butted tubing tech was first used in racing bicycles and is thicker at the high-stress ends than it is in the middle.

Caterham will team up with butted tubing pioneer Reynolds Technology and CAE consultancy Simpact Engineering: the trio promise to deliver an automotive test car by February 2016.

The target is a 10% weight saving. And that’s on a car that already weighs just half a tonne…

So promising is the new project, it’s even secured a government grant from the Niche Vehicle Network, part of BIS.

But don’t think it’s a project that’s only applicable to low-volume niche sportscars. Spaceframes, say the trio could also provide a low-cost solution to the production of other lower-volume vehicles, such as city cars.

Tim Williams, director of Simpact, said: “We have a computer model of the Seven chassis and we will put it through its paces in terms of loads and will analyse it in a virtual environment.

“We can look at its performance and assess which elements of the frame we can alter with the latest developments in butted tubing to enhance its lightweight credentials.

Keith Noronha, from Reynolds Technology, said: “This project aims to prove that car designers can re-think how to use steel – a sustainable and recycleable material – whilst meeting challenging targets on stiffness and driveability.

“The Caterham Seven should be the first car to incorporate these innovative aspects.” Enter the Caterham Ultralight series?