In January 2021 we reported that Renault - or more precisely, Alpine - and Lotus were joining forces to produce a new electric sports car platform. It was one of those light-bulb moments; it made total sense. Both companies operate with a similar philosophy – producing small, lightweight sports cars – so why not pool resources and share costs? After all, the next generation of EV sports cars is going to require great dollops of cash to develop, and while Alpine and Lotus might have rich parent companies they are themselves small-scale producers with relatively tight budgets.
Well, in a twist to the tale it seems that the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between them is no more. The first winds of change came on Friday, when Bloomberg put out a story hinting that Renault was, ‘Leaning towards developing the platform for its new Alpine sports car on its own rather than pursuing co-development with Geely’s Lotus Cars’. That story went on to say that Alpine felt it had sufficient in-house expertise and resource to go it alone.
Yesterday this was made official by statements from both companies. Alpine’s read, “Lotus and Alpine have been collaborating on a future EV sports car vision for more than two years, during which time a strong relationship between the two companies has developed. As with any collaboration following an MoU, the outcome was not guaranteed. We have decided not to progress with the joint development of a sports car for Alpine. This is a mutual decision reached amicably and we will continue to discuss other future opportunities.”
Lotus emailed a similar statement to Automotive News Europe yesterday that said, ‘We have decided not to progress with the joint development of a sports car for Alpine. This is a mutual decision reached amicably’. So, taken at face value this was a bilateral decision and there’s no issue between the manufacturers, which has to be good news for all. As Lotus has proved over many, many years, being a low-volume sports car manufacturer is a tough gig.
Alpine’s experience has confirmed that, with comparatively low sales despite its universally applauded A110. Last year it reported a record year after a 33 per cent increase in sales, but that still put the number of new Alpines registered at only 3,546. Fingers crossed both parties flourish, and continue to pursue electric sports cars on their own terms.
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