Here’s a corporate hookup that’s certainly less than obvious, if only for the geography involved. British and French collaborations on car design aren’t numerous, and certainly make news when one such joining occurs. This one is especially noteworthy, both for the names involved and for the hoped-for outcome. Groupe Renault and Group Lotus – historic competitors on the world’s race courses, especially in Formula 1 – have signed a memorandum of understanding on mutual design cooperation, specifically on the development of an all-electric supercar, using the Lotus and Renault-allied Alpine brands. The deal underscores the sheer immensity of trying to design any EV from scratch, which has sent any number of automakers far larger than these two to establish partnerships in the hopes of flattening some of the technical and financial obstacles to large-scale EV production.
Given that the deal was only disclosed this week, it’s useless to speculate on what sort of car might result, except that it’s safe to say that it won’t be the one depicted above, the revived Alpine A110. Introduced in 2017, the A110 is a rear mid-engine sports car that recalls the original Alpine A110, a rally legend built between 1961 and 1977. Founded in 1955, Alpine is the longtime tuning partner of Renault, in BMW/Schnitzer fashion, right through Renault’s bonding with Nissan. The reimagined A110 is built in small numbers at the Alpine factory in Dieppe. Last year, Alpine announced a partnership with MV Agusta to produce a special limited edition of the MV Agusta Superveloce sport motorcycle. Alpine has fielded an Oreca-built LMP2 prototype with Nissan power, and the Renault team in F1 will be rebranded as Alpine F1 this season. If the notion of a French alliance with a chauvinistically British nameplate like Lotus seems a little strange, consider that since 2012, Renault and Caterham Cars – which made its rep selling updated takes on the iconic Lotus Seven – have owned a 50 percent stake in Alpine and its operations.