Alpine’s American aspirations, Mercedes wrings 416 hp from 2.0 liters, Winnebago’s electric RV

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Famous French sports-car brand wants to sell SUV to U.S.

Intake: Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi sees the United States market as a major key to the French brand’s growth over the next seven years, according to a new report by Automotive News. Renault Group CEO Luca de Meo has set an ambitious revenue target of 8 billion Euros (roughly $8.6 billion) by 2030 for Alpine, and both executives agree that such a goal can’t be achieved without American sales. Alpine, which currently only makes one car, the A110 sports coupe sold exclusively overseas, will have to clear more than 150,000 sales annually to achieve that goal, says Rossi. The American effort will be spearheaded by two electric SUVs, about the size of Porsche’s Macan and Cayenne Coupe, due sometime in 2027 or 2028. Rossi said that Alpine is still evaluating what platform the two electric crossovers will be built on, mentioning that although cribbing parts from Alliance partner Nissan is a logical step, the brand may also tap Lotus or its parent company Geely. “It’s quite early days, because we are talking about cars that will be released around 2027 or 2028, so we can really take our time in exploring the best solutions and best collaborations,” said Rossi, talking to reporters.

Exhaust: Rossi is correct that the brand has time to decide the best partner to work with for these forthcoming models, but developing a car from the ground up takes several years; don’t expect Alpine to wait around until 2025 to make a final decision. Alpine has other cars coming down the pipeline sooner, including a hot-hatch version of the new Renault 5 EV due in 2024, a sporty compact-crossover EV tentatively called the GT and due in 2025, and an electric successor to the A110, which will use Lotus underpinnings, due in 2027. Sadly, none of them are destined for the states. Will Alpine’s American ambitions mesh with tough regulations about production and material sourcing for that all-important tax credit? — Nathan Petroelje

2024 CLA 45 S Coupe has America’s most powerful four-pot

Intake: Mercedes-Benz has given the CLA Coupe a nip and tuck for the 2024 model year, but the most interesting element of the revised model is the introduction of the 45 S. Fettled by AMG, the car’s 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine produces an epic 416 horsepower at 6750 rpm alongside a 369 lb-ft tsunami of torque at 5000 rpm. Those figures are mainly down to substituting the exhaust-gas turbo of the lesser CLA 35 with a twin-scroll, roller-bearing-mounted blower, alongside having the motor itself hand-assembled by the bearded boffins at AMG. There’s also a 48-volt mild-hybrid system which adds 13 hp. Power goes to all four wheels via an eight-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission, and as a result, the Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S Coupe will scorch from zero to 60 mph in four seconds flat and reach a top speed of 167 mph. Like all 2024 CLAs, the 45 S Coupe features a tweaked front and rear design but also gains an aero-enhancing body kit with a fixed rear spoiler and a set of five-spoke, 19-inch black alloy wheels. There are interior upgrades across the CLA range as well, including a 10.25-inch media display, an uprated MBUX infotainment system with a Dolby Atmos stereo, and a variety of new fabrics. Pricing hasn’t been announced, but expect to pay more than the $56,950 that Mercedes charged for the outgoing CLA 45.

Exhaust: Downsizing certainly hasn’t hurt AMG’s seemingly endless search for power. The new CLA 45 S is 34 hp up on last year’s 45 and outguns Audi’s RS3 despite being down one cylinder and a half-liter of engine displacement. Will AMG be able to wring any more out of this motor before the fully electric switch? — Nik Berg

Winnebago offering test drives of its electric RV

Intake: At the ongoing Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa, the unlikely celebrity is Winnebago’s new eRV2, an all-electric RV. The company is offering test drives, and is currently overbooked for them. says the concept was built off the Ford Transit platform and upfitted by Lightning eMotors. “It utilized the vehicle’s body, chassis, and suspension, then was equipped with an 86-kWh battery that was expected to deliver 125 miles of range and charge time of 45 minutes on DC fast charger,” says Electrek.

Exhaust: Truly made for green travelers who aren’t in a hurry, the 125-mile eRV2 is the future. It’s outfitted with solar panels, and “from Chilewich flooring to Paperstone window frames, we’ve employed sustainable and recycled materials throughout the van to further reduce your impact on the environment,” Winnebago says. Production is expected to start soon, with no word on the price as of this writing. — SCS

Interest rates hiked on vehicle loans

2021 Ford F-150 Tremor

Intake: Interest rates will grow to 6.9 percent on direct 60-month new-vehicle loans and 7.8 percent on direct 48-month used-vehicle loans over the course of the year, Bankrate chief financial analyst Greg McBride predicts, says Automotive News. Five-year new-vehicle loans directly from banks started last year at 3.9 percent interest on January 5, 2022, and rose to 6.1 percent by December 28, 2022, according to Bankrate. McBride said his forecast figures the Fed will bump the federal funds rate another percentage point upwards in the first half of 2023, and then “move to the sidelines.”

Exhaust: Given new car, truck, and SUV prices are still elevated as the chip shortage winds down, “Cash is King,” as a story suggests. A healthy trade-in or a substantial down payment will help ease the pain of the higher interest races.— SCS

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    Alpine wants me to be an electric toaster? Nope. I might buy their sweet coupe but not an SUV Toaster thingy.

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