French Automaker Wants To Fight Ferrari

Sports Cars / Comments

Good luck with that.

A few years ago, French automaker Renault revived the Alpine sports car brand after almost a 20-year market absence. The result was the overseas-only Alpine A110, a purist-focused sports car whose competitors include the Porsche 718 Cayman, Audi TT, and Alfa Romeo 4C. The A110 has won rave reviews for its brilliant handling characteristics, but it's not exactly a mainstream model. Far from it. To date, just 1,455 examples were sold in Europe since its late 2017 market arrival, while total multi-year global sales hit only 4,835 as of 2019. The 718 Cayman (combined with the 718 Boxster), to compare, sold 783 units last year in Europe alone.

Clearly the A110 and Alpine brand, in general, is ultra-niche, but newly installed Renault CEO Luca de Meo has an ambitious plan. According to Bloomberg, de Meo aims to turn Alpine into a mini Ferrari rival.

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Renault

In his short time on the job, de Meo has already re-branded Renault's Formula 1 team as Alpine, and believes that if the team's technical and mechanical expertise is applied towards street-legal sports cars, then "you could get a mini Ferrari." Alpine is based in northern France and the Italian-born de Meo's somewhat far-fetched idea could turn out to be just the thing that financially struggling Renault could use.

In the first half of this year, Renault lost 7.3 billion euros, and the coronavirus pandemic is not the main reason. Renault's financial state was already dire and the pandemic only made things worse. De Meo, the report claims, believes Alpine will "add emotion" to the automaker's electric vehicle models. He also wants Alpine to begin a supposed "Porsche 911 program" with new limited-production EVs.

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Renault
Renault
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While de Meo's Alpine plans are ambitious, he also expressed some humility. "It wouldn't be reasonable to think we can do 1 million cars with Alpine," he said. Bear in mind Ferrari only sold 10,131 vehicles last year, the first time it sold over 10,000 cars in a single year. But exotic sports cars are not only limited in production, they must also deliver the goods.

The Alpine A110 is an excellent start, but moving from a niche player to even get Ferrari's attention is a significant and challenging leap forward.

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Renault
Renault
Renault

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