Since the launch of the Alpine A110, there have been innumerable comparisons made to Lotus's way of doing things. Both obviously favour the advantages of being small and light, and a joy to drive in Britain. And we've imagined, haven't we, what might happen with a bit of cross-pollination - an Alpine with a manual gearbox, a slightly more liveable Lotus and so on. Well, imagine no longer, because Alpine and Lotus have joined forces.
"As part of the Alpine Business Unit development, Groupe Renault and Group Lotus have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to study a number of areas of cooperation, including the joint development of an EV sports car." As opening sentences for press releases go, that's a pretty significant one. Obviously the electric vehicle part of it is the key statement; Lotus has been there before (to some extent) with the Elise-based Tesla Roadster, and Renault has shown a long-standing commitment to EVs as part of the alliance with Nissan and Mitsubishi that should stand it in good stead. With their combined devotion to lightweighting, it's hard to think of two better brands to collaborate on making an electric sports car that's both fun to drive and doesn't weigh two tonnes.
There's more, too, as Alpine and Lotus are set to "explore the development of a joint services offer combining their engineering expertise." Once again, there's been more than enough expertise shown by both to make that a very interesting proposal. Because if an Alpine-Lotus sports car is as good as it has the potential to be, who wouldn't want to consult with them on how to produce something similar? A point is also made about a collaboration "to leverage Alpine's motorsport platform", covering everything from Formula 1 to Formula E; with Lotus about to embark on its electric era with the Evija, might an appearance for it in Formula E be a prudent marketing move?
There's plenty to consider already, then, and much to be excited by as well. Naturally it brings to mind the ill fated original Caterham-Alpine tie-up that should have produced another derivative of the A110 sports car, but there's surely cause for more optimism this time around, given the funding Lotus now enjoys. The obvious advantages of pooling resources (and reducing costs) to meet a fiendishly difficult near future challenges is clearly also front of mind.
Commenting on the news, Lotus CEO Phil Popham said: "Today's announcement is the first step in what is set to be a hugely rewarding collaboration between our iconic brands... Our companies have much in common - from a pioneering pedigree in lightweighting, to championship-winning sports cars which perform as impressively on the road as they do in the motorsports arena. It is a natural fit in many ways and the co-development of an EV sports car is hugely exciting... The joint-services element of our agreement will additionally make our engineering expertise available to those wishing to engage our innovations."
They were sentiments shared by Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi, who added: "Both brands have an amazing legacy and we are most excited to start this work together, from engineering tailored solutions to developing a next-generation EV sports car. This collaboration along with our transformation mark the beginning of a new era in which we'll be taking the Alpine name and line-up to the future."
With the ink presumably only just dry on the MoU, there's nothing set in stone just yet in terms of a product plan. Still, an Alpine-Lotus partnership sounds like a match made in heaven already, especially with the patent need for electric vehicles to shed some weight. And, let's be honest, to really appeal to enthusiasts as well. It's hard to image two better suited manufacturers, on paper at least. We can't wait to see what happens.
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