The Alpine revival: Renault and Caterham join forces
Renault and Caterham Group have announced their decision to join forces in pursuit of a common project: to design develop and build future sports vehicles. This agreement reflects a similar passion and expertise in sports and motorsports vehicles. The future vehicles will be distinctive, differentiated, and carry the respective DNA of Alpine and Caterham Cars, the automotive division of Caterham Group. They will be built at the Alpine plant in Dieppe, Normandy, in France.
The Caterham Group will own 50% stake in the Automobiles Alpine Renault company, currently 100 % held by Renault SAS. The Société des Automobiles Alpine Caterham, which will be resulting from this partnership, shall be created in January 2013. It will be managed by Bernard Ollivier.
Carlos Ghosn explains: "The global market for specific sports cars is an important and vivid market with more than 700,000 vehicles expected in 2015. Between 2009 and 2015, an increase of 50% is expected, including 15% in Europe between 2012 and 2015."
For Tony Fernandes, Caterham Group Chairman: "I have not felt as excited about a new venture since I launched AirAsia in 2001 [...]. We know the markets we are going into and, particularly in my playground in Asia, there is a huge opportunity to replicate the AirAsia model and give consumers access to exciting, affordable products that marry our interests in F1 and technology and help make their dreams come true."
A common engineering department
Following a feasibility study on the joint development of a sports car conducted by Renault Sport Technologies and Caterham Technology & Innovation (CTI – the engineering and technology business of Caterham Group), Renault and Caterham will combine their skills to build models in large and small series, in order to widen their positioning on the sports vehicle market. The objective for each company is to launch its own vehicle in this market within the next three to four years.
Renault and Caterham Group will each bring their respective technical skills to the development of the future products through a newly-created joint Engineering Department. They will split the required engineering and industrial investments on a 50-50 basis in the spirit of a true partnership. Société des Automobiles Alpine Caterham will be able to draw upon the expertise of Renault, Renault Sport Technologies and CTI in the development of its future products.
"This innovative partnership with Caterham embodies a longstanding ambition: the creation of a sports car with the Alpine DNA. It carries both opportunities for the Dieppe plant and the development of its historic know-how" Carlos Ghosn explains.
At the heart of the project: the Alpine plant in Dieppe
The Dieppe plant will play a central role in the partnership between Renault and Caterham Group, at the heart of the sporting passion shared by the two partners. This is where the future sports vehicles of Renault and Caterham will be built. The project is a development opportunity for the Dieppe site, from the standpoint not only of production, but also the acquisition of a prized and unique expertise. The Alpine plant in Dieppe is currently dedicated to building the vehicles developed by Renault Sport Technologies, both production (Clio R.S.) and racing models.
The Dieppe plant, built in 1969, is the historical home of the Alpine brand which gave birth to such legendary models as the Berlinette. Its core business is the assembly of sport vehicles, the assembly and sale of motorsports cars, and the sale of spare parts for motorsports vehicles, including at sports events. Its flexibility and ability to adapt are just two of the specific characteristics that enable it to produce vehicles in small runs. With a workforce of over 300 and a surface area of 76,000 m² of which 36,900 m² is built up, the plant has produced more than 400 000 vehicles since 1969. Among them, the Alpine A110, the Renault 5 Alpine or the Spider.