Your next car - designed by rally drivers?
British rally specialists Prodrive (the people that made Subaru rally cars and currently make the Mini WRC car) say that they are increasingly being asked by car manufacturers to develop mainstream cars for major manufacturers.
Speaking to industry website just-auto, Prodrive's Managing Director Tony Butcher, said that car companies are so busy at present that they are outsourcing major parts of a new car's development to Prodrive.
Apparently, prototypes are being delivered to them in a very raw form and Prodrive then develops the way the steering feels and how the suspension is tuned – or even replacing the suspension design altogether.
Prodrive says the process is not unlike turning a road car into a World Rally car – the bodyshell stays pretty much the same, but most of the mechanicals can be changed. This certainly cements the UK as the place where car manufacturers come to finish the development process.
With both Lotus and Prodrive being leaders in this area, a huge number of overseas cars are actually developed in the UK. We doubt that many German premium cars are being polished in Banbury (Prodrive) or Hethel (Lotus), but a lot of Asian and other European ones certainly are.