Report: Renault’s Alpine Brand Still Considering United States

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

When rumors first emerged that Renault’s Alpine brand might be coming to North America, driving enthusiasts seemed excited by the prospect of the mid-engine A110 being available. However, subsequent talk from the automaker has confirmed that the French performance marquee might take a while to get here and had opted to focus entirely on all-electric vehicles.

The company recently showcased its new A290_ß concept (pictured), which is an all-electric hatchback reminiscent of the vintage R5 Turbo if it was based on the modern Renault 5 EV, to give the public a taste of the path Alpine intends on taking with its products. But it’s not the only model it has been working on.

There’s a sporty midsize crossover anticipated to launch in 2025 and, according to MotorTrend, two even larger models that the brand believes might be a good fit for the United States.

"The U.S. is an opportunity we will be looking at," Renault CEO Luca de Meo was quoted as saying during the Future of the Car summit in London, "and if we find an opportunity it will probably be with the Alpine brand."

We suppose Alpine represents a smaller risk than trying to bring back Renault, which has been absent from the market since 1987. There probably aren’t a lot of regular Americans that are all that knowledgeable about Renault. But enthusiasts might be familiar with Alpine from motorsport and are likely to be more willing to shell out extra cash for performance vehicles bordering on exotic.

From MotorTrend:

Significantly, de Meo acknowledges that both the A290_ß, which will launch in Europe in 2024, and the larger EV crossover coming in 2025 are both too small to attract enough buyers in the U.S. "We are looking at bigger cars because we need them to get access to richer markets," he says. These bigger Alpine EVs would be a coupe and an SUV, says de Meo, each roughly the size of a C-Class or E-Class Mercedes-Benz and scheduled to appear in 2027 or 2028.

The smaller electrics may also be underpowered, with inadequate range for the North American landscape. Based on Renault’s single-motor, front-drive CMF-EV electric vehicle architecture, the A290_ß is supposed to make 215 horsepower in its base format. While decent for a small car, it’s going to be carrying a portly battery pack.

While Alpine will undoubtedly seek to address weight, the Renault 5 EV is targeting 250 miles of range when equipped with a 52-kWh battery. Unfortunately, European testing cycles tend to be more generous when determining maximum range than the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency and the automaker has already gone to tremendous lengths to save weight due to how much of the vehicle’s mass is already attributed to the battery.

That likely is going to leave Alpine’s version equipped with the smaller 40-kWh battery if it’s going to try and remain lean. But that’s going to leave it with an unacceptably small operating area for American tastes. Meanwhile, leaving it heavier is going to cut into performance and make customers eyeball combustion models with similar specifications, presumably lower price tags, and higher top speeds.

An Alpine coupe and SUV EVs sized to appeal to American buyers would mean more space for larger batteries and room to attach another motor to the rear axle. That means more power and range. The vehicles are also said to be styled by Alpine’s F1 engineers, offering sublime aerodynamics and some of the most aggressive bodywork you’re likely to see on an EV.

It sounds a little fantastical, especially considering how often companies claim they’ll be coming to our shores and then never quite make it. But MotorTrend says the odds are better than we might imagine, as an influx of Chinese EVs now threatens Renault's traditional mass-market position in Europe. The company sees itself as needing to expand and figures sending premium performance vehicles to North America isn’t the worst idea.

We’ll see how it plays out.

[Images: Renault Group]

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Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Mar65713495 Mar65713495 on May 16, 2023

    Actually, I think trying to compete with larger cars/SUVs WON'T work. They should bring in something like the A290. I just think the crossover competition is too great, and French and Italian vehicles are not likely to be noticed. Look at the success Alfa has had.....very limited. But there is a small group of enthusiasts that would love a racy hot hatch like the A290. Unfortunately a volume of 20k/year or so wouldn't justify a dealer network, so they would need to innovate on sales and service processes without any dealers.

  • Wolfwagen Wolfwagen on May 17, 2023

    I'm still waiting for the Alpine GTA or the A310 GT. AMC would have had something very unique and stylish (for the 1990s). But it was a victim of the Chrysler acquisition of AMC

  • Varezhka I have still yet to see a Malibu on the road that didn't have a rental sticker. So yeah, GM probably lost money on every one they sold but kept it to boost their CAFE numbers.I'm personally happy that I no longer have to dread being "upgraded" to a Maxima or a Malibu anymore. And thankfully Altima is also on its way out.
  • Tassos Under incompetent, affirmative action hire Mary Barra, GM has been shooting itself in the foot on a daily basis.Whether the Malibu cancellation has been one of these shootings is NOT obvious at all.GM should be run as a PROFITABLE BUSINESS and NOT as an outfit that satisfies everybody and his mother in law's pet preferences.IF the Malibu was UNPROFITABLE, it SHOULD be canceled.More generally, if its SEGMENT is Unprofitable, and HALF the makers cancel their midsize sedans, not only will it lead to the SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST ones, but the survivors will obviously be more profitable if the LOSERS were kept being produced and the SMALL PIE of midsize sedans would yield slim pickings for every participant.SO NO, I APPROVE of the demise of the unprofitable Malibu, and hope Nissan does the same to the Altima, Hyundai with the SOnata, Mazda with the Mazda 6, and as many others as it takes to make the REMAINING players, like the Excellent, sporty Accord and the Bulletproof Reliable, cheap to maintain CAMRY, more profitable and affordable.
  • GregLocock Car companies can only really sell cars that people who are new car buyers will pay a profitable price for. As it turns out fewer and fewer new car buyers want sedans. Large sedans can be nice to drive, certainly, but the number of new car buyers (the only ones that matter in this discussion) are prepared to sacrifice steering and handling for more obvious things like passenger and cargo space, or even some attempt at off roading. We know US new car buyers don't really care about handling because they fell for FWD in large cars.
  • Slavuta Why is everybody sweating? Like sedans? - go buy one. Better - 2. Let CRV/RAV rust on the dealer lot. I have 3 sedans on the driveway. My neighbor - 2. Neighbors on each of our other side - 8 SUVs.
  • Theflyersfan With sedans, especially, I wonder how many of those sales are to rental fleets. With the exception of the Civic and Accord, there are still rows of sedans mixed in with the RAV4s at every airport rental lot. I doubt the breakdown in sales is publicly published, so who knows... GM isn't out of the sedan business - Cadillac exists and I can't believe I'm typing this but they are actually decent - and I think they are making a huge mistake, especially if there's an extended oil price hike (cough...Iran...cough) and people want smaller and hybrids. But if one is only tied to the quarterly shareholder reports and not trends and the big picture, bad decisions like this get made.