Renault wants to turn the mythical Alpine into a 100% electric high-end sports brand.
From time to time there are revivals of brands that are natural. So much more often, ambitious and thoughtful revivals. In the automotive industry, this observation is perhaps more true than elsewhere…
A car brand is an intangible asset of great value. There exists thus many brands, or even models that have disappeared, that still resonate strongly to many potential customers. The car sector is therefore a optional universe to revive brands. But in this industrial sector it doesn’t happen twice.
That investments are very important and the time required to revive a car brand much longer only in fashion, e.g. It is about developing relevant models, which takes time and money. It is also a question of creating a commercial dynamic, even a distribution network, which is even further.
There was a serious lack in the French automotive world: a true Premium offering and the margins that come with it.
Risky industrial investment
The investment is risky and various ingredients must be in place: that brand valuethe strength of its history, but above all that need this suggestion in the range of products offered by an automotive group.
In France, as in many car countries, there are names that resonate strongly. At the same time there was a serious lack in the French automotive world: a true Premium offer and the margins that come with it. Citroën has therefore exploited one of its cult models, the DSwhich is now available as an independent brand with four models and an extensive distribution network.
Renault does the same with Alpine. Obviously if you talk to anyone from Renault they will tell you there is a big difference. “The Alps will always be sporty“, assures Karl Schuybroek, communications director for the Renault Group in Belgium.
Sports past and future
Alpine is first and foremost the story of racing cars. The founder of the brand, Jean Rédélé, is a driver with the title. He was moreover Renault dealer in Dieppe in Normandy. There it is Alpine was born in 1955. The brand’s first vehicle, the A106, was built using parts from Renault’s 4CV.
Later comes the brand’s emblematic car, the A110 designed in 1962. Even then she was sold and maintained by Renault. It would be produced until 1977. After Renault had acquired a majority stake, and two decades under the Diamond brand, the brand will disappear simultaneously with the end of production of the A610.
His disappearance left a certain void in the segment of sports vehicles à la française. Renault will try to fill it with its Sport division and the success of the sports versions of Mégane or Clio.
Alpine was relaunched under the leadership of two Carlos. Carlos Ghosn was then head of Renault. As early as 2006, he dreamed of the top of the range and reviving Alpine. The project becomes more concrete in 2012 with a first prototype.
“F1 is a great marketing tool.”
Carlos Ghosn puts his number 2 at the head of the brand’s revival project, Carlos Tavares. But the rest of this project will be done without this motorsport enthusiast who left Renault in August 2013 to experience a meteoric rise by first becoming the great boss of PSA, then of Stellantis after the merger with Fiat Chrysler.
It will take several years to go through an Alpine model. This will be done in 2017, with the rebirth of the A110.
F1, a showcase for marketing
Under Luca de Meo, the new head of the Renault group, Alpine asserts itself. The brand “will move from a nostalgic positioning to the automotive avant-garde”he announced with aplomb in January 2021. Avant-garde is a term that we also often hear at DS.
The brand will therefore centralize all sports activities, such as Renault Sport, but also F1. Alpine relies heavily on the marketing of sports competitions, and F1 in particular, to develop. L’objective be to stay profitable in 2025. “F1 is a great marketing tool,” said Karl Schuybroek.
Growing premium market
“Without good products, what you’re doing is marketing history, and that can only last a few years. With vehicles from 50 to 70,000 euros, we are talking about passion, not just a transaction“, then added this heir to the Peugeot family, car enthusiast and who designed the DS3.
Alpine therefore has a product plan that goes beyond simple small sports cars. At the same time, it becomes a matter of gaining fame. The €60,000 “Berlinette” A110, produced in Dieppe, sold almost 5,000 units in 2019, but sales were less than 2,700 units in 2020. At Alpine, we want to be inspired by the brand of German luxury Porsche, which created a model with its Macan and Cayenne SUVs a few years ago.
Alliance with Lotus
Alpine takes a full electric ride, the next model, an electric GT crossover, will be produced in Dieppe from 2025. Normandy’s industrial tools must be adapted accordingly. A small sports car, nicknamed the “Alpine A5” in the industry, will share the technical basis of the new electric R5 and should be produced at Electricity Douai.
But keeping a small brand alive can be complicated. Alpine has therefore found an unexpected ally in Great Britain, with the manufacturer Lotus. Together they will develop the replacement for the A110, which will have a counterpart at Lotus called the Type 135. If nothing has been confirmed yet, the trade press still believes that the model will be produced at Lotus, on the other side of the Channel.
In Belgium, “the issue of notoriety is not so present in the south of the country, but in the north.”
Ambitions are very high, Alpine wants to sell at least 40,000 cars a year, i.e. 15 times more than today, by 2026 at the latest. But the brand has a serious challenge to face in terms of fame, Alpine has more fame in some countries than others. In the Netherlands, Germany or Scandinavian countries, for example, the brand is little known.
In Belgium “the issue of notoriety is not so present in the southern part of the country, but in the north. For our events, we therefore focus on the northern part of the country, where we are less known”, explains Karl Schuybroek. In addition to Zaventem and Antwerp, Alpine is launching sales points in Ghent and Turnhout. is also planned for the Marche-en-Famenne in September.expanding the network to include the compact sports car in 2024 and the GT crossover from 2025.
At present, Belgium is vying with Japan for fourth place in terms of alpine sales volume, which makes the investment in the revival of the French brand particularly vivid here at home.
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