At a press conference in Paris this morning, French automaker Renault announced a new partnership with Caterham, the British sports car brand and Formula One constructor. The partnership will see a 50:50 joint venture created, which will be responsible for the development of new sports cars, one of which will be sold by Renault under a revived Alpine brand.
Caterham will get its own version of the Alpine sports car, though the parties involve stress that the models created by the joint venture, whose full name is Société des Automobiles Alpine Caterham (SAAC), will be distinctive, differentiated, and carry the respective DNA of the Alpine and Caterham brands.
Renault and Caterham are looking to combine their skills to build models in both high and low volumes, suggesting several new models could eventually be developed. The current objective is for Renault and Caterham to each launch a sports car within the next three to four years.
Production of the new cars will take place at the old Alpine plant in Dieppe, in Northern France, and managing the project will be Bernard Ollivier, a senior Renault executive. The Dieppe plant currently builds performance versions of Renault cars like the Clio RS
Renault has been vocal about a revival of its Alpine brand for some time now, and in May of this year the automaker rolled out the Renault Alpine A110-50 Concept
in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the legendary Renault Alpine A110 Berlinette
. The popularity of the A110-50 Concept prompted Renault into seriously investigating the feasibility of reviving the Alpine brand.
Renault and Caterham already have ties through their participation in F1 (Renault’s motorsport division Renault Sport supplies F1 engines to the Caterham F1 team), and with Caterham looking to launch more road-going models
the decision to enter a new partnership was made easier for both sides.
For those unfamiliar with Alpine, the brand was founded in 1955 by Frenchman Jean Rédélé and started out as a motorsport company. Alpine would later use a number of Renault mechanicals to build its own range of sports cars and continue racing. Renault eventually bought Alpine in 1973, which continued to build cars right up until 1994 when its last model, the A610, rolled off the line at the Dieppe plant.
The new Alpine sports car is expected to be a two-seater built on alloy chassis developed by Caterham and powered by Renault engines. Sadly, it’s unlikely to be sold in the U.S.
As Toyota and Subaru have shown with their respective GT 86/FR-S and BRZ models, co-developed sports cars can be successful. In fact, Toyota has even partnered with BMW for a new joint sports car project