LOTUS TO BUILD ALPINE AND INFINITI CONCEPTS?
Why production of the Alpine A110-50 and Infiniti Emerg-E could throw Hethel a lifeline
Lotus Evora 414E-derived Emerg-E concept, which Renault also uses as a base for a production Alpine. Result? Two projects, of niche volume in the eyes of mass-market brands, become viable and Lotus wins much-needed extra production volume plus, presumably, a viable production version of the Evora 414E too. A triple win, then.
It's not often rumours make this much sense, but it seems the pieces are falling into place. Autocar this week reports Infiniti boss Shiro Nakamura has suggested the yet to be confirmed (and British-developed) Emerg-E "could be built in Britain."
This supports a conversation PistonHeads had about the Alpine with Renault marketing chief Steven Norman at the Geneva Motor Show back in March. Norman admitted "we probably won't do it on our own. It needs more than Renault-Nissan."
"The Alpine people are car buffs, they'll do everything they can to make it work," said Norman. The two barriers stopping it, he said, would be demand being too low or minimum standard costs being too high. An alliance with Infiniti and Lotus, more than any joint venture with Mercedes, may achieve this.
Norman also said the Alpine would be mid- or rear-engined. The mooted Mercedes 'baby SLS' SLC donor car is, of course, front-engined.
It works like a Vauxhall Ampera. The batteries drive the electric motors and, when they're flat, the engine takes over to top them up. The range is around 300 miles, exhaust emissions are minimal (55g/km CO2 is mooted) yet, with 408hp and 590lb ft of torque, performance would be in the sub four-second 0-62mph bracket with electronic torque vectoring to aid handling.
When could it arrive? "If we can make the sums work, we could do it in 30 months," said Norman. So, high-tech range-extender Renault Alpine mid-engined green sports car for reveal at the Paris Motor Show 2014 and market launch in 2015? The bigger surprise may be if it doesn't happen...