Renault might make an all-electric Alpine just to save the brand
The world economy is in a spot of bother, to put it mildly, and the auto industry has been hit hard by the financial aftermath of Covid with plummeting sales and profitability issues. In France, PSA isn't doing too well but Renault is facing even bigger problems, and that's the main reason why less than a week ago the French government announced an €8b stimulus plan to save its car manufacturers. Obviously we're not happy about that but it gets even worse because Renault is reportedly considering shutting down the factory in Dieppe, in Northern France, to cut costs. And that's where the Alpine A110 is built.
Once again, manufacturers are caught between a rock and a hard place. Renault resurrected the Alpine brand only a few years ago and it wants to continue making the A110, the nifty lightweight sportscar inspired by the original Alpine from the 60s, but cash flow is a major concern, and so is profitability, which means they simply have to sell more of them to make it financially viable. Three years ago, when the A110 was unveiled, Renault set a benchmark goal of 6,000 units per year but so far, they've sold fewer than 10,000 vehicles. The A110 is a great car but competition is fierce, especially considering the Porsche Cayman is available at the same price point.
And unfortunately that's not the end of the bad news because, as things stand, manufacturers are struggling to cope with the insanely stringent restrictions put in place by the EU, something they have to do to avoid paying tens of millions of euros in penalty fines. I guess you know where this is going because, yes, it seems that the only way to keep the Alpine in production is to make it go electric.
Everything is on hold for now because at the moment, the Renault-Nissan alliance (with Mitsubishi) has other things to worry about. The two brands jointly announced a major restructuring and cost-cutting plan for the new few months and we're going to have to wait until the soon-to-be CEO of Renault Luca De Meo takes office in July.
The current Alpine A110 is powered by an 1.8-litre engine and it is a fabulous car, chiefly because it's light and agile, something that could probably change if the car goes electric because as we all know batteries are very heavy.
It wouldn't be the end of the world, of course, but it would be a bit sad. I like electric cars, I've driven plenty of them, and we know that EVs can be phenomenally fast but the whole point of the Alpine is the nimble simplicity. Something that would be more difficult to achieve with electricity. Still, there's nothing you and I can do about that and the only thing I can say is if you can afford an Alpine A110, go out and buy one now while you can.