The Caterham Group and Renault announced a partnership to build a series of sports cars in Paris this morning.
The project will see the two automotive companies join forces to revive the Alpine series, following its dissolution in 1995.
Heading the programme will be Bernard Ollivier – the current director of Transformation de Renault and the former head of Renault Technology.
This partnership will also see Caterham take a 50% stake in the Automobiles Alpine Renault Company, which is to be renamed the Société des Automobiles Alpine Caterham, headed by Ollivier. The new series of Alpine’s are to be built at the Alpine plant in Dieppe, Normandy (France).
“This innovative partnership with Caterham embodies a longstanding ambition: the creation of a sports car with the Alpine DNA” said Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO of Renault. Ghosn added “it carries both opportunities for the Dieppe plant and the development of its historic know-how.”
Caterham Group Chairman Tony Fernandes commented that he had “not felt as excited about a new venture since I launched AirAsia in 2001.” Fernandes also said “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.”
Whether this spells secondary branding potential for Caterham and Renault in Formula One has yet to be revealed.
A feasibility study conducted by Renault Sport Technologies and CTI (Caterham Technology and Innovation) unveiled a possible window of exploitation in the sports market. The partnership have also outlined an desire to launch its own vehicle into the market prior to the end of 2016.
Caterham have spent much of the last eighteen months making inroads into the racecar market, with the reinvigoration of the Caterham Seven and the limited edition SP/300R series.
There had been brief for Caterham to design and build sports cars for the road had been whispered in the latter part of 2011; however this deal with Renault appears to be the first step to realising that aspiration.
Meanwhile, Renault had attempted to revive the Alpine brand in 2007; however the project stalled and was eventually shelved at the end of the decade.