Renault Relaunches Alpine with Caterham

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Renault and Caterham announce new partnership to build sportscars together in a joint venture based in France.

Developing a new sportscar is no small feat. It generally requires a significant investment in a platform that will likely never be used for any other products. That's why even a powerhouse like Toyota had to team up with Subaru for the development of the GT86/BRZ, and why other automakers are struggling to catch up. It's also why an automaker as large as Renault (despite its existing alliances with Nissan and Mercedes-Benz) has turned to Caterham to help it develop a new sportscar to revive the old Alpine brand.


Long rumored and just confirmed today by official announcement from both parties, Renault and Caterham will be teaming up in a 50/50 joint venture that will build a new line of sportscars. Although details of the vehicle (or vehicles) that will result from the partnership remain secret (or have simply yet to be determined), Renault's COO Carlos Tavares says that the first new Alpine should arrive "within the next three or four years". The Renault Alpine model could take some cues from the A110-50 concept unveiled earlier this year, but don't expect it to be too similar, as the show car (though fully functional) was based on a Renaultsport racing chassis.

Caterham, meanwhile, has long been striving to extend beyond its core range of what essentially amount to reproduction Lotus Sevens, its most recent SP/300.R project potentially in jeopardy after Lola Cars, the company that builds it, has essentially gone bankrupt. Whatever form it takes, the new Renault-Caterham sportscar will be built at the old Alpine factory in Dieppe, France. The facility once built Alpine sportscars but until recently served as headquarters for the Renaultsport division for production of its celebrated hot hatches, but with the new Clio RS going more mainstream, its 300 workers needed a new task.

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Some investment from French national and local governments seeks to keep those workers employed, but the rest of the investment will be split 50/50 between the two partnering automakers. Of course this isn't the first time Renault and Caterham have teamed up: the French automaker's F1 division supplies the Caterham F1 team with its engines, much as it does with the Lotus and Red Bull teams. This more extensive partnership, however, could prove far more interesting... and potentially more successful.

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