Lotus and Alpine team up for new electric sports car
Anglo-French relations have certainly improved since Brexit, as Renault-owned Alpine and Lotus announce the joint development of a new EV sports car.
As part of Renault’s “Renaultlution” (yes, really) plan the sporty Alpine sub-brand is to become 100 percent electric. This does conflict somewhat with the announcement that Alpine will take over the Renault flag in Formula 1, where internal combustion is still set to be the primary driving force for some years, but the joint venture with Lotus will also have the two brands looking into Formula E and endurance racing.
Lotus, is of course, developing its own EV, the wild 1972-hp, $2.3M Evija, but the Alpine co-venture will need to come in at less than $100,000 to make sense.
New Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi says, “This collaboration along with our transformation mark the beginning of a new era in which we’ll be taking the Alpine name and line-up to the future. We’re putting F1 at the heart of our business, leveraging our in-house expertise and best-in-class partners such as Lotus to inject our cars with leading-edge performance, technology and motorization.”
Lotus CEO Phil Popham adds, “Our companies have much in common—from a pioneering pedigree in light-weighting, to championship-winning sports cars which perform as impressively on the road as they do in the motorsports arena. It is a natural fit in many ways and the co-development of an EV sports car is hugely exciting for our companies, our fans and customers around the world.”
Renault and Lotus working together is a case of history repeating itself. The breadvan Lotus Europa had a little 1.5-liter engine from the Renault 16 mounted amidships together with the Renault’s transmission and transaxle, while the second generation Esprit also used a Renault transaxle. The two companies first raced together in Formula One in 1983 and, notably gave Ayrton Senna his first wins. They returned to the grid in 2011 as Lotus Renault GP during a strange time when, briefly, two competing Lotus teams were in Formula 1, mostly fighting over the brand name rather than podium positions. Renault finally took over ownership in 2016, bowing out for Alpine in 2020.
Alpine has also previously been linked with tiny British sports car maker Caterham (makers of the originally-Lotus Seven). The two firms worked on a lightweight sports car codenamed C120 that was to be have been sold under both brand names. Despite a rumored combined €150 million ($180M) investment the project failed to materialize and Renault went its own way with the A110 (see top image), while Caterham continued with its diminutive roadsters.
The Renaultion plan calls for Alpine to be pure electric and in profit by 2025 so we can expect to see the fruits of this new collaboration soon.