Alpine : a monument at risk | Automotive

Alpine is a brand cursed ? In spite of its past successes and the spectacular renaissance of the legendary berlinetta, it was thought the essential fact. Within

Alpine : a monument at risk | Automotive

Alpine is a brand cursed ? In spite of its past successes and the spectacular renaissance of the legendary berlinetta, it was thought the essential fact. Within a group, such as Renault, which manages folders infinitely more important, the conduct of a small brand who assembles 100 or 200 times fewer cars per day than any other plant in the group has something to think about.

The meaning of gaap, Alpine has absolutely no industrial interest because its production is too limited and involves too much energy to justify the investment profitable. But it is to be unaware of the enthusiasm and the respect it has built up with multiple lovers of sport in the world, which makes it a strategic tool capital.

the relaunch of The brand, many times attempted, and each time postponed, was finally completed in 2017. It has identified the location, in spite of an air hole of 22 years and 40 years for the berlinetta, the image remained intact of the brand with a model that materializes the philosophy of a sporting exception, and this price very less than its competitors.

Is this not the vocation of the Alpine to feed, 20 or 30 years later, the auction rather than meet today's passions ? © Gicey

The idea to sweep of a reverse of hand carrying everything that is Alpine for the simple fact that it employs less than 385 people on its historic site of Dieppe is obviously not well inspired. But, in the face of its many challenges, Renault is seeking lines of economy in which it can be assumed that they are based, without feeling, only on the industrial logic. This may be true for the two secondary sites and unknown by the closure plan (Choisy-le-Roi, the Foundries of Britain), but those of Flins and Dieppe, for very different reasons, do not have a priori no interest.

Flins assemble the Clio, Nissan's Micra and especially the Zoe, an electric car built in model for a future car blindly encouraged and subsidized by the government. Dieppe, with its small size and its flexibility, has always assembled a number of small series, including sporty versions of the Renault during the long interlude before the revival of the berlinette in 2017.

At the time when the French government is going to provide 5 billion euros to help Renault to pass the course of the current crisis, the closure plan proposed by Renault is not consistent with the relocation of activities, which appears to be non-debatable. "This loan, I have not yet signed," threatened the minister of the Economy in an interview published Thursday evening by The Figaro.

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Edward Philip, as Prime minister, but also mayor of le Havre, normandy town as Dieppe, increase the tone. A few hours earlier, in the Senate, while stressing that the " plan is not yet submitted and therefore probably not yet arrested ", he assured that the State, as a shareholder of the manufacturer, was "extremely attentive" to the situation. "We will be extremely committed, and uncompromising, to the conservation of sites France ", he added.

The limits of the "low cost"

Renault are recounted no less than four factories on the axis Seine between Normandy and Boulogne-Billancourt. Not to mention the test center of Aubevoye and the Technocenter of Guyancourt. It appears that the government will not let more slip away in countries of the developing industrial activities in france. In other words, the low cost of the Dacia is not extensible to other productions, except, of course, to supply distant markets. The return to Europe of these cars "off the ground" at low cost will likely be seen in the same light.

The plan of removal of Dieppe does not mean that Alpine would disappear as such. In a first time, its production can be transferred to another assembly site of which we do not yet know the virtues that are superior to those of Dieppe. As amazing as evil early when we know that Renault has invested € 35 million in the modernization of the production line at Dieppe, to be inaugurated in 2017 after two years of work.

All the Alpine are not blue. © DR

According to our information, this announcement was made in a context totally shifted compared to the reality experienced in internal. "We never had the feeling in recent months that Alpine was in the slightest danger, that his program was called into question ", says a source close to the folder. "It is quite the opposite, since the trademark has long been engaged in a development program and it has received confirmations farms, even recently. "

Yet, according to our information, the problem of Alpine would come from elsewhere. The new berlinette A110, which has met entry-a considerable success for French sport, recalls a bad memory to Renault. It is one of the Fuego (1980-1986), who had a startup business on the hats of wheel, and the enthusiastic buyers served, had not managed to convince the others and had quickly collapsed. Such a fire of straw seems to be equated with Renault in the history of sports cars or original. Is not Porsche who wants to, able to install in time one or more cut, but learned to support them with SUV's and a sedan electric very high quality.

pride in French

The example comes from above and, if it is difficult to compare to a Porsche, the Alpine does not have to be ashamed when it is known that its berlinetta has been dissected by the German manufacturer as it has been at Ferrari ! What lifting the head and say that there is a way that was very French of the sport, based on the weight-power ratio. This implies a lightweight frame that allows you to settle for a 4-cylinder while getting excellent performance. And especially the outstanding agility of the Alpine, which offers a "road feel" inimitable. Better yet, the little engine allows you to go off the CO2 even if the small production of the berlinette allows him not to enter into the overall calculation of the Renault on the emissions.

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So, why condemn a car that is, we will realize later (too late) a true monument of its time ? Just because Renault has well decline the strategy of Porsche but without the means. Often referred to, the project of a SUV with a very sporty hybrid or all electric would be the next Alpine.

Based on the common platform CMF-EV that Nissan will use for its future SUV electric Aryia, Alpine might prefer, to better distinguish it from the japanese, a coupe 4 doors with two electric motors providing 300 horses or more. A kind of small Taycan or anti-Tesla. Very far from the spirit of the Alpine, which will make cringe the fans of the brand. But the worst is yet to come. This model, which is considered to be a necessity in order to ensure the sustainability of Alpine, will be matricide and will remove the product catalog for the berlinetta.

A single model Alpine

"It is clear today that Alpine will not walk on two legs," says an internal source, referring to the size of Alpine that does not have, at this stage, two models in operation. "Moreover, if the trajectory of sales has allowed them to spread very quickly 5 000 berlinettes A110 per year in two years, the curve inflects according to an inverted V and the S version has not helped much to slow down the decay. 25 cars/day, which was probably too fast in the early days of the berlinetta, it rose to 7/day ", which clearly disappoints the accounting of Renault.

Alpine could be based on this concept Nissan Ariya for a sedan electric well far from the philosophy of the brand. © Nissan

However, the passing of the baton between the berlinetta and the future model that doom is not for everyone. Fans still have time to order this great car, which will become a collector's item. But is this not the vocation of the Alpine to feed 20 or 30 years later auctions, rather than meet today's passions ? For this, we need a management that is more proactive and inhabited by its mission as cold calculators who don't know what that is a berlinetta.

Luca de Meo, tipped to take the direction of Renault. © Stan Papior / Seat

In this context, one discerns a glimmer of hope. On the 1st of July next, the future boss operating out of the Renault, in the starting blocks for months to enforce a non-competition clause with Volkswagen, which he left, will take over his duties. Luca De Meo, who began his career with Renault, was then multiplied positions, but included in his feats of arms, the management of Alfa Romeo, of Fiat where he launched the 500, the exhumation of Abarth and the launch of the Cupra, the brand's sporty Seat, which he led for six years. Far from the pure financial or industrial distanced, Luca De Meo is a crazy product of the enthusiasm latin. Renault has clearly identified himself as the man of the situation. It comes at a delicate moment in which the key issues are piling up on his office in Boulogne. But he has already discerned the issue of this brand that may be to Renault, what Audi is to Volkswagen.

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Alpine A110 : a French renaissance
Updated Date: 22 May 2020, 06:33

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