Report: Renault Discussing U.S. Sale of Alpine Sports Cars With AutoNation

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

France’s Renault has already announced that it has been considering how best to sell Alpine sports cars in North America and the latest plan appears to involve getting cozy with AutoNation. With no dealer base of its own on our market – and Alpine being an incredibly small brand – leveraging one of the largest used dealer networks in the United States could be an ideal way to get a foot in the door.

News comes from Bloomberg, with CEO Luca de Meo confirming on Thursday that the automaker is considering plenty of alternative options should any prospective arrangements with AutoNation fall through.

“It’s not easy because we are not present in the U.S. and we have to start from scratch,” de Meo said during Renault’s earnings presentation.

Though the deal could be wildly lucrative for both companies. Renault has made it clear that it wasn’t access to the United States and AutoNation (now headed by former Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley) but rather the opportunity to raise its profile by being the sole purveyor of one of the best little sports coupes currently on sale in Europe.

From Bloomberg:

The automaker is embarking on a sweeping overhaul after a tough twelve months marked by a costly withdrawal from Russia and a landmark deal to reshape its troubled alliance with Nissan Motor Co. The manufacturer is reorganizing into five different units spanning EVs, combustion- and hybrid-engine assets, the Alpine sports-car brand, financial services and new mobility and recycling businesses.
The hard-won agreement with Nissan from earlier this month is clearing the way for Renault to work with new partners, including deals with China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. and Qualcomm Inc.

De Meo has said the business is not stopping there in terms of prospective partnerships. While the last few years could have treated Renault better, it’s been bragging about how it managed to beat analyst projections for 2022. The French company’s operating profit for the year more than doubled on an adjusted basis to 2.22 billion euros ($2.37 billion USD) on sales that climbed 11 percent to €46.39 billion. Having likewise sold its Russian assets to Moscow last spring, it’s clearly looking to grow in other parts of the world.

The region represented a meaningful portion of Renault Group’s global business (selling estimated 500,000 units in 2021) – leaving room for debate about whether the company’s partnership hunts are golden opportunities for growth or a sign of industrial desperation.

[Image: FernandoV/Shutterstock]

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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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4 of 19 comments
  • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Feb 18, 2023

    I feel like Infiniti dealers is the most sensible place to distribute these.

    -They have little product at Infiniti, none of it relevant.

    -Their stores are in more upscale areas, which is the customer for a French sports car.

    -Nobody wants to buy a brand new Alpine at a crap AutoNation lot.

    Q: Where would you get those serviced? AutoNation?

    • See 1 previous
    • MRF 95 T-Bird MRF 95 T-Bird on Feb 18, 2023

      Back in 2008-09 during the Great Recession and auto industry restructuring and rescue Penske considered selling rebadged Saturns and IIRC Renaults at their outlets. The old “captive import” model.

  • Bkojote Bkojote on Feb 21, 2023

    This is a terrible strategy - sell them through Infiniti dealers.

    AutoNation is basically a glorified buy-here-pay-here lot. And that's their /new/ car dealerships.

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