ALPINE IS BACK: EXCEPTIONAL INTERVIEW WITH ALPINE DEPUTY DIRECTOR BERNARD OLLIVIER--
DOES THIS LATEST CHAPTER IN THE ALPINE COMEBACK STORY MARK A REAL REBIRTH?
Bernard Ollivier: In many ways I think it does. We are, indeed, seeing a revival. Our motorsport involvement since 2013, in endurance in particular, brings clear evidence of the important place held by Alpine in the hearts of motorsport aficionados and sportscar devotees. Judging from collectors’ clubs initiatives and the lasting enthusiasm and interest of Alpine fans in general, our project enjoys firm support, twenty years after the last Alpine rolled out of the Dieppe plant. While staying true to the genetics of the original Alpine legend, we’re also putting it in tune with the modern age. The premium sportscar market has changed, and our customers today expect a degree of refinement in addition to top-level sports performance.
HOW EXACTLY WOULD YOU SUM UP THE ALPINE “GENETICS”?
BO: Well, to start with Alpine epitomizes elegance à la française. That means unpretentious, upfront, fluid and refined. Alpine brings pure driving pleasure, instantly appreciable round tight bends, for example. (Indeed, the very name Alpine is inspired by the winding roads of the Alps). Of course, the exceptional performance owes a great deal to the car’s lightweight design. We’re talking about intense driving sensations. With an Alpine, there are no concessions. We’re talking about genuine excitement. The Alpine driver is in direct, unadulterated contact with the machine and with the environment. When you think about it, those Alpine values are very much in tune with modern times.
WHAT IS THE ALPINE AMBITION?
BO: Alpine will be reaching out to premium sportscar customers, many of whom will not necessarily be familiar with Renault. These customers will include motorists seeking a sensational driving experience, along with people who are fascinated by fine craftsmanship. In both profile categories, there’s a fair proportion of women. The niche market we’re addressing is both highly dynamic and highly demanding. Customer awareness runs high; customers are attentive to brand histories and brand values. They’re ready to pay the right price for a product that meets their exacting expectations. For this reason we believe there’s potential on all continents for the alternative that Alpine proposes.
WHAT DOES MOTORSPORT MEAN FOR ALPINE?
BO: Competition (and the will to win that goes with competition) is an integral part of the Alpine DNA. Many people hold fond memories of Alpine as the little guy winning through against the big names (Porsche, Ferrari, BMW, etc.) in the international racetrack or rally arena. Fully aware of the importance of racing in the Alpine genetic makeup, we resumed our motorsport involvement in 2013, in endurance (LMP2 category in the Le Mans 24-Hour event, and the European Championship, ELMS). Then we entered the World Championship (WEC) in 2015. We’ve been very successful: European endurance champion in 2013 and 2014, podium position in the 2014 Le Mans 24-Hour event and in the 2015 Mont Fuji 6-Hour event, first place in the 2015 Shanghai 6-Hour event, etc. Endurance, a historic discipline for Alpine (54 cars at the Le Mans starting line in 11 years, and scratch victory in 1978), is an excellent choice, and all the prestige motorsport brands are involved.
WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE FORTHCOMING “BERLINETTE”?
BO: Our forthcoming sports coupé will be quite close to the Alpine Vision show car unveiled by Carlos Ghosn. From the various clues garnered over the past few months, we know that the future Alpine will look great: sleek, elegant and compact. And I can tell you that performance and response will be equally impressive. Building on the original Alpine genetics, it will benefit from the full breadth of Groupe Renault engineering know-how and motorsport passion. Alpine will be offering an innovative product, a breath of fresh air in the heady reaches of the sportscar universe, in which there is nonetheless no shortage of fine brands and excellent products.