It’s no longer an industrial adventure, it’s Koh Lanta. Since the start of Alpine’s resurrection, not a semester has gone by without mentioning a difficulty, a delicate pass, or a questioning of the very existence of the small Dieppe brand. Even so, Renault announces the creation of three new models.
Latest episode: the transfer of the electric replacement for the current A110 to Lotus in England in 2025. What in this case of the historic factory in Normandy at this time? It will assemble sports versions of models designed and manufactured elsewhere and which will be finalized in Dieppe.
This will be the case of the SUV designed on the basis of the new electric Megane E-Tech, and of the dynamic version of the new R5. Alpine will also appear on the sides of the large Renault Austral SUV. But beware. To the suspicious people who predict a forfeiture, the logos will indicate “Alpine Spirit”, nothing to do with it. The spirit of the letter, rather than the letter.
It prevents. Here is Alpine forced to return to this moment in history that we did not necessarily want to see it revive: that of a sort of more or less sporting division of the great Renault house, even if, at the same time, it will become the thief of a collaboration with a British-Chinese manufacturer (Lotus) to design and manufacture a car in an almost artisanal way.
The dream of the return of a brand in its own right, capable of developing its own models, and above all, of being able to sell them, has therefore been buried. Obviously, this perspective absolutely does not take into account the qualities of the models that will be produced in Hethel in England, or those that Dieppe will finish assembling from Douai. Future Alpines may be perfect even if they are unlikely to actually be Alpines.
A soft extinction
Alpine’s dream is therefore somewhat extinguished in fact, but not in people’s minds. And this is one of Luca De Meo’s strokes of genius. When the Italian arrived at the head of the diamond, industrial and financial logic required him to put an end to the Dieppe adventure. The group lost 8 billion, the small sports brand was not profitable, and had very little chance of becoming one day.
By producing 3,000 A 110 per year, it could not hope to become profitable, and all observers quickly realized that this threshold was insurmountable, for lack of notoriety of the mark elsewhere than in France and with a few fans scattered around the world on the one hand. But also because of the particular architecture of the car and its exclusive platform which forced it to sell for a high price, without generating an insane margin per unit sold.
But when your name is De Meo, and you arrive at Renault, starting your reign by closing a brand and a factory is not really the most encouraging act to guarantee social peace at a time when it must motivate more than ever teams undermined by financial losses and the Ghosn affair.
In addition, the Italian’s CV was crowned with the creation of sports brands (and successes) such as Abarth and Cupra with his previous employers. No question therefore of putting the key under the door. So Alpine continued. Its factory has endured and its A110 has evolved very slowly, for four years, while its parents have continued to seek solutions so that the beautiful Dieppoise survives without it costing a blind.
Alpine’s future will therefore be totally electric, but how could it be otherwise? Until then, the last A110 thermal will continue to sell, a little, with a price increase of almost 5,000 euros. They will join the garage of the last fans who will agree to spend between 60,000 and 70,000 euros on average, delighted with a penalty after all contained for this level of power and pleasure.
The latest cars produced will be pampered by their owner, aware that they have a model that can be collected very quickly since they know the end date, in three short years. After that date, Alpine will still exist, but it won’t really be Alpine anymore. As for the thermal A 110s, they will do like the berlinettas of the 60s: they will reach indecent ratings.