Renault, Caterham partner to build a sports car and revive Alpine brand

Renault-Alpine-A110-50-concept-heroFrench carmaker Renault is looking to revive the defunct Alpine (“al-peen”) sports car brand, and it may get help from an unexpected source. The French giant is looking to British boutique carmaker and Formula 1 team Caterham to make the 21st century Alpine happen.

According to Autocar, the project will yield two sports cars, one badged as an Alpine, the other a Caterham, that will use a common platform. Caterham will build its version in England, and the revived Alpine will be built at the old Alpine factory in Dieppe. The venture is called Societe des Automobiles Alpine Caterham, and each company has a 50 percent stake.

“This innovative partnership with Caterham embodies a longstanding ambition: the creation of a sports car with the Alpine DNA. It carries both opportunities for the Dieppe plant and the development of its historic expertise,” Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn said in a statement.

Caterham is known for the 7, a minimalist sports car with motorcycle fenders. The 7 was originally built by Lotus, but Caterham took over production after Lotus moved on to more substantial sports cars.

The Alpine project expands an existing partnership between Caterham and Renault. Caterham’s Formula 1 car uses a 2.4-liter V8 from the French carmaker.

What will the fruits of Caterham and Renault’s labors look like? Renault recently showed the racy Alpine A110-50 concept car, but the production car will probably be less exotic.

The engine will probably come from one of the Renaultsport hot hatchbacks. That means either the direct-injected and turbocharged 1.6-liter four from the Clio RS, which produces 200 horsepower, or possibly the 265 hp 2.0-liter turbo engine from the Mégane Cup.Caterham 7 and Formula 1 car

The new sports car may use an aluminum space frame, something Renault pioneered in the 1990s with the Renaultsport Spider roadster. Whether the car will be rear-engined (as some past Alpines were) or mid-engined is unknown, although it will probably be rear-wheel drive. The Caterham and Alpine versions may also have different body styles, possibly resulting in a Caterham convertible and an Alpine coupe.

Alpine was founded in 1955 and started out tuning Renault production models. It quickly moved on to developing its own sports cars, such as the A110, using Renault components. It was bought by Renault in 1973 and, like Abarth and AMG, became an in-house tuner for its parent. The Alpine name was used on performance Renaults until 1994, when it was replaced by the Renaultsport brand.

It’s hard to see how a collaboration between hallowed brands like Alpine and Caterham could go wrong, so this paternership is definitely one to watch. Development work is already underway, with the revived Alpine set to debut in 2015 or 2016.


Rivian CEO R.J. Scaringe wants his startup to be the Patagonia of electric cars

Rivian is the latest startup hyping new electric cars. But unlike most other startups, Rivian is focusing on off-road vehicles. It launched an electric pickup truck and SUV at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. CEO R.J. Scaringe explains the…

Did that car just wink at you? Daimler previews car-to-pedestrian signals

Eager to show off progress with autonomous cars and perhaps do some consumer softening as well, Daimler and Bosch previewed car-to-pedestrian communications. A sensor-loaded Mercedes S appears to wink to acknowledge a pedestrian's presence.

Uber is about to restart self-driving car tests but on a reduced scale

Uber is reported to be on the verge of restarting its autonomous-car test program. The company halted it in March 2018 following a fatal accident involving one of its vehicles, but its cars could be back on the road within weeks.

Bosch is developing a Rosetta Stone for autonomous and connected cars

Bosch and start-up Veniam want to create a common language that autonomous and connected cars can use. The two firms have developed a connectivity unit that transcends the national boundaries of technology.

Aston Martin bets classic car owners will choose volts over carburetors

Aston Martin has converted one of its most sought-after classic models to run on electricity instead of gasoline. The roadster uses electric components sourced from the upcoming Rapide E sedan.

Volkswagen may be planning a tougher challenge for its all-electric I.D. R

The Volkswagen I.D. R electric race car may head to the Nürburgring in 2019 for a lap-record attempt, according to a new report. Volkswagen will reportedly aim to set the quickest lap time ever by an electric car.

Car-branded phones need to make a U-turn if they ever want to impress

Your car and your smartphone are becoming one, yet smartphones branded or co-created by car companies are a problem. We look at the history, some examples of the best and worst, then share hopes for the future.

600-hp, $155K Polestar 1 is the alluring Volvo coupe you’ve been waiting for

Volvo's return to the coupe segment just took an interesting turn: the model will join the Polestar lineup, and it will get a 600-hp plug-in hybrid powertrain. The Polestar 1 will be built in China starting in 2019.

The Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake is the sexiest wagon ever

Aston Martin has revealed new photos of the limited-production Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake. The Vanquish Zagato line now includes the Shooting Brake, Coupe, Volante, and Speedster, each with bespoke styling.

Nissan and Italdesign’s GT-R50 concept will become a $1.1 million reality

The Nissan GT-R50 is a customized sports car built to celebrate the 50th anniversaries of both the GT-R and design firm Italdesign. Underneath the sleek bodywork sits a 710-horsepower engine fortified with race car components.

Ford’s new Shelby GT500 Mustang will have 3D-printed brake parts

Ford's new $45 million Advanced Manufacturing Center will focus on emerging technologies, including 3D printing. One of the staff's first jobs is to print parts for the 700-horsepower Shelby GT500 Mustang.
Product Review

Audi built an electric SUV for buyers who want gasoline-free to mean stress-free

We finally got to spend time behind the wheel of the electric 2019 Audi E-Tron bustling cities and arid desert of the United Arab Emirates to see how it compares with Jaguar and Tesla's competitors.

World’s fastest electric race car to display at Petersen Museum

The Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak race car smashed the all-time record at the hill climb for which it was named. The all-electric VW record-holder will be on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles until February 1, 2019.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!