Renault and Caterham to build new Alpine

Renault Alpine 110-50 concept
5 Nov, 2012 10:12am Tom Phillips

Joint venture will see Renault and Caterham producing two new sports cars

Alpine is back, thanks to a new joint venture between Renault and Caterham Cars. As of January a new company, Societe des Automobiles Alpine Caterham, will begin work on “a range of future sports vehicles”, with the first car due “within the next three to four years”.

Renault and Caterham will share 50:50 ownership of the company, which will be run by former Renaultsport boss Bernard Ollivier from a base at the current Renaultsport – and former Alpine – factory in Dieppe.

Renault and Caterham-badged models will be produced, and will be clean-sheet designs. They will share the same platform and Renault engines, but feature unique bodywork, interiors and suspension set-ups. The cars will be built at the expanded French plant, too, alongside the Renaultsport Clio.

The production model won’t look like the 110-50 concept, but it will be rear-wheel drive and follow Alpine’s mantra of making “nimble, lightweight, high-performance vehicles”.

Speaking at the announcement of the joint venture, Renault boss Carlos Ghosn declined to specify what the new sports car will be. However, it has been confirmed that it will use a bespoke platform. Ghosn added “There’s a name that we want to revive… all I can say is that it will be a very modern, a very competitive Alpine.”

The new cars will be powered by Renault petrol engines, but when asked about the potential of an electric-powered Alpine, Ghosn said: “I refuse to rule anything out.”

Renault boss Carlos Tavares has also confirmed the Alpine model will cost “between 40,000 and 50,000 Euros” (£32,000 and £40,000).

As for the Caterham model, Caterham Cars boss Graham MacDonald said, “Renault and Caterham are aiming for a very similar price point.” However, the Caterham will “stay true to the firm’s DNA”, and be “visually very different” from the Alpine sister model.

When asked about powertrains, Caterham boss Tony Fernandes said: “Renault, they’re more 1.6-litre turbo and we’re more 2.0-litre turbo.”

Caterham plans to use its Formula One team to help speed up the development of the road car, both in terms of working practices and its staff, of which Mike Gascoyne, CEO of Caterham Technologies and former F1 tech boss, is heavily involved.