Back in May, Renault rolled out the bright blue Alpine A110-50 concept, suggesting an exciting revival for the historic Alpine name. Today, the automaker has announced a partnership with UK-based Caterham to build high-end sports cars at Renault's Alpine plant in Dieppe, Normandy, in France. Caterham will own a 50-percent stake in the partnership to be called the Societe des Automobiles Alpine Caterham (SAAC).
"This innovative partnership with Caterham embodies a longstanding ambition: the creation of a sports car with the Alpine DNA," said Renault Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn in a press release. It carries both opportunities for the Dieppe plant and the development of its historic know-how."
The two companies released few details of the new venture's products, but the Future Caterham website features the silhouetted outline of a swoopy coupe that very closely matches the A110-50 concept. The two brands expect to release a model each within four years and produce "several thousand vehicles a year," according to Ghosn.
At the press conference there was also Formula 1 talk. Renault no longer directly competes in the series, but does provide engines to four teams including Caterham F1. At the meeting, Caterham Chairman Tony Fernandes said, "If you look at Formula One, there's only Ferrari and McLaren, which are extremely expensive. We'll produce a car that many more people can afford with F1 technology."
Will an Alpine be sold in the States? It seems every European automaker is busy trying to offset sales declines in their traditional markets, so we'd have to say definitely maybe. Stay tuned.
Read the full press release below.
The future vehicles will be distinctive, differentiated, and carry the respective DNA of Alpine and Caterham Cars, the automotive division of Caterham Group. They will be built at the Alpine plant in Dieppe, Normandy, in France.
The Caterham Group will own 50% stake in the Automobiles Alpine Renault company, currently 100 % held by Renault SAS. The Société des Automobiles Alpine Caterham, which will be resulting from this partnership, shall be created in January 2013. It will be managed by Bernard Ollivier.
This project, which ensures the Dieppe Plant a sustainable future, was made possible thanks to the incentive and to the substantial support and commitment provided by the French State and the Région Haute Normandie which also involved the contribution of Dieppe Maritime.
For Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO of Renault:
"This innovative partnership with Caterham embodies a longstanding ambition: the creation of a sports car with the Alpine DNA. It carries both opportunities for the Dieppe plant and the development of its historic know-how."
For Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, Caterham Group Chairman:
"I have not felt as excited about a new venture since I launched AirAsia in 2001 and I want to thank Carlos Ghosn and Carlos Tavares and everyone in our new Renault family for having the belief in Caterham Group to create this partnership. Many people doubted us 11 years ago when we launched our airline and I am sure that there will be doubters again this time, but we will not fail your trust. We know the markets we are going into and, particularly in my playground in Asia, there is a huge opportunity to replicate the AirAsia model and give consumers access to exciting, affordable products that marry our interests in F1 and technology and help make their dreams come true."
For Carlos Tavares – COO Renault:
"Our ambitions of reviving Alpine depended on our ability to find a partner in order to ensure the economic profitability of such an adventure. Right from the start, we wanted to place the Dieppe plant at the heart of the project. Today, through our partnership with Caterham Group, we can enter a new phase: the design of a vehicle that will embody the very essence of Alpine, a vehicle that will rekindle sporting passion once more. It could become a reality within the next three or four years."
For Dato Kamarudin Meranun, Caterham Group Deputy Chairman
"Formula 1 was always our entry point into the car business. Our original plans to develop a partnership with Lotus were put aside in spectacular and well documented style, but now we have a far better chance to develop Caterham Cars in partnership with Renault, working with Caterham Technology who are also integrally involved in this new venture. Our F1 team has already been working successfully with Renault Sport F1 since the start of the 2011 F1 season and I am thrilled that now we are adding to our track partnership by joining forces with Renault on the road. Together with Renault we have now created an opportunity for Caterham Cars to grow into the next stage of its development from a very well respected niche brand into a serious player on the global motoring map. "
For Bernard Ollivier, CEO of Société des Automobiles Alpine Caterham:
"I'm very proud of the trust placed in me by both shareholders. The road map for each car is clear and simple: respect the DNA of both Alpine and Caterham Cars. With the passion and expertise of the staff dedicated to this project, we are sure of meeting this aim".
Development ambitions targeting the sports vehicle market
Following a feasibility study on the joint development of a sports car conducted by Renault Sport Technologies and Caterham Technology & Innovation (CTI – the engineering and technology business of Caterham Group), Renault and Caterham will combine their skills to build models in large and small series, in order to widen their positioning on the sports vehicle market. The objective for each company is to launch its own vehicle in this market within the next three to four years.
An innovative and complementary partnership as part of a joint company
- Renault and Caterham Group will each bring their respective technical skills to the development of the future products through a newly-created joint Engineering Department. They will split the required engineering and industrial investments on a 50-50 basis in the spirit of a true partnership.
- Société des Automobiles Alpine Caterham will be able to draw upon the expertise of Renault, Renault Sport Technologies and CTI in the development of its future products.
Alpine: Jean Rédélé, pilot, businessman and automotive pioneer, founded Alpine in 1955. Alpine's manufacturing and racing adventure started with the A106 coach based on the platform and engine of the Renault 4 CV. The Alpine DNA is based on nimble, lightweight, high-performance vehicles with flowing lines: a formula that works well for both road and racing cars. The ever-young A110 – celebrating its 50th birthday - is probably the most iconic of Alpine's road cars. During its existence, Alpine sold 30,000 road sports cars. For several decades, it also carried high Renault's sporting colours. Among other victories, Alpine was World rally champion in 1973, winner of the Monte Carlo Rally in 1973 and 1974 and of the Le Mans 24-hour event in 1978. Its sporting record includes many prestigious victories. Alpine ranks among the sporting legends.
Caterham Cars: The DNA that runs through every Caterham can be traced back to the 1950s, when its first vehicle, the Seven, was designed. Caterham Cars has inspired passion and emotion ever since. It embodies the essence of what a sports car should be. Today, that philosophy continues to guide Caterham Cars, making 'accessible fun' a reality for sports car buyers across the globe.
Every weekend, over a thousand competitors race Caterham vehicles on tracks around the world, from Silverstone and Brands Hatch to Bahrain and Abu Dhabi. Today, building on its racing heritage and 40 years of experience in road cars, Caterham Cars is able to combine its engineering excellence with the manufacturing and production capabilities of Renault to create a Caterham vehicle of even greater potential. This new vehicle will still possess the fundamental DNA of the Seven, which remains in production in Dartford, UK.
At the heart of the project: the Alpine plant in Dieppe, France
The Dieppe plant will play a central role in the partnership between Renault and Caterham Group, at the heart of the sporting passion shared by the two partners. This is where the future sports vehicles of Renault and Caterham will be built. The project is a development opportunity for the Dieppe site, from the standpoint not only of production, but also the acquisition of a prized and unique expertise. The Alpine plant in Dieppe is currently dedicated to building the vehicles developed by Renault Sport Technologies, both production (Clio R.S.) and racing models.
The Dieppe plant, built in 1969, is the historical home of the Alpine brand which gave birth to such legendary models as the Berlinette. Its core business is the assembly of sport vehicles, the assembly and sale of motorsports cars, and the sale of spare parts for motorsports vehicles, including at sports events. Its flexibility and ability to adapt are just two of the specific characteristics that enable it to produce vehicles in small runs. With a workforce of over 300 and a surface area of 76,000 m² of which 36,900 m² is built up, the plant has produced more than 400 000 vehicles since 1969.
Bernard Ollivier, biography
Born March 11, 1952, and a graduate of Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris (1975), Bernard Ollivier joined Renault in 1977. He occupied a number of positions in planning, finance and management before being appointed corporate controller and head of planning at Renault's Sales and Marketing department in 1992. He subsequently became after-sales director at Renault and managing director of Sodicam. He took over as head of the CAT group (logistics) in January 2000. He was appointed general manager of Renault Sport Technologies in July 2001 and head of Group engineering facilities in France (particularly Guyancourt) from April 2, 2007. He became VP, Transformation at Renault in January 2011.
About Renault and Renault Sport
Since the victory of Louis Renault in the Paris-Trouville race in 1899, Renault's culture and history has been closely linked with motor sports. Renault is a major player in motorsports through its subsidiaries Renault Sport F1 and Renault Sport Technologies. In the last 35 years, Renault has won more F1 titles than any other constructor (nine drivers' titles and ten constructors' titles). Renault is the world's leading manufacturer of single seaters – with the Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula Renault 3.5 – without forgetting rally cars. Renault Sport Technologies brings its expertise to the design and manufacture of the Renault Sport range. The GT and R.S. versions of Twingo, Clio and Megane are renowned for their performance and handling. At the same time, Renault brings motorsports to a wide audience, free of charge, with the World Series by Renault events. Motorsports are the showcase for Renault's technical expertise and passion, with direct benefits for production cars. Present on every continent, with more than 350 manufacturing and commercial sites in 118 countries, Renault designs, builds and sells a broad range of innovative and reliable vehicles that respect the environment. Today, Renault is pursuing its strategy of profitable growth with its associated brands, Dacia and Renault Samsung Motors. Renault employs a workforce of 128,000. It had revenue of €42.628 million in 2010 and sold more than 2.7 million vehicles in 2011.
About Caterham Group, Caterham Cars and CTI
Caterham Group is the parent company grouping businesses specialising in cars, motorsports, technology and innovation, including Caterham Cars, Caterham Technology and Innovation, Caterham F1 Team and Caterham Composites.
Caterham Cars is a highly specialized sports car manufacturer, renowned throughout the world for delivering precision-engineered, high-performance, lightweight cars, encapsulated by the Seven. The development programme is based on a simple philosophy: marrying a lightweight body to a powerful engine, and applying intuitive, confidence-inspiring handling. Today, Caterham's range of Sevens reflects perfectly that ideal. The company has its production based in Dartford, Kent, UK and has a global retail network.
Caterham Technology and Innovation (CTI) is a specialist engineering business with a focus on advanced vehicle concepts, enhanced powertrains, advanced materials and manufacturing technologies. CTI engineers undertake advanced projects for external companies in the automotive and aerospace sectors. The company has its headquarters in Hingham, Norfolk, UK.