Renault to pursue Alpine revival despite ending Caterham JV

Article by Christian Andrei, on March 26, 2014

Renault still plans to revive its Alpine brand even after terminating a partnership with British specialist sports car maker Caterham, reports said. The carmakers disclosed in November 2012 a 50-50 agreement to design, develop and build sports cars. At the time, the carmakers said they planned to roll out the first vehicles by 2016.

Renault is set announce to unions the unwinding of the joint venture with Caterham, but will pursue solo development of a roadster as it bids to revive its own Alpine brand, a source told Reuters. Renault and Caterham had intended to use their Formula One renown to build a following for affordable performance cars in Europe and Asia.

Tony Fernandes, a tycoon who bought Caterham in 2011 and controls the F1 team of the same name, had vowed more Renault-built models to transform the UK company into a global premium player. The Caterham F1 team, however, was dead last in the 2013 F1 season and has gotten no points since it entering the sport as Lotus Racing three years prior. This prompted Fernandes to give a warning in that he might walk away unless matters turn better.

Renault chief executive Carlos Ghosn also expressed concerns on Caterham's future financial contributions to the joint venture during an internal meeting late 2013, according to a person privy with the matter. Autocar has reported that the venture was being terminated due to differing views on vehicle development. While Renault has already sold its own F1 team in 2010, it still supplies engines to Red Bull, Lotus, Toro Rosso and Caterham. Renault seeks to replicate the 1970s success of Alpine sports cars and intends to produce models for the sports brand at its Dieppe plant in France. [source: automotive news - sub. required]

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