Renault’s Sporty Alpine Brand Eyeing All-Electric U.S. Launch by 2028
Renault CEO Luca de Meo has confirmed the company is looking to make a return to the United States, most probably with its sporty sub-brand Alpine, and possibly by 2027 or 2028. De Meo says Alpine, which last week revealed an exciting electric hot-hatch concept, the A290_ß, the production version of which will share its platform with the recently announced Renault 5 EV, already has Tiguan-sized EV crossover under development for launch in 2025 and is contemplating two even bigger EVs for the U.S. market.
“The U.S. is an opportunity we will be looking at,” de Meo told the Financial Times Future of the Car summit in London, “and if we find an opportunity it will probably be with the Alpine brand.” Why Alpine? Renault exited the U.S. in 1987 after selling AMC to Chrysler—though Renault engineer François Castaing stayed in Detroit to famously engineer the Jeep Cherokee and the Chrysler LH cars, among many others—and Alpine is perhaps better known to Americans because of its presence in Formula 1.
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.
Alpine’s light and nimble A110 coupe is a highly engaging car—legendary grand prix racer and hypercar designer Gordon Murray uses one as his daily driver—so upsizing, creating SUVs, and making the switch to heavier EV powertrains presents a real challenge for the brand. The A290_ß concept provides some clues as to how it might be done.
Like the Renault 5 EV, the production version of the 160-inch long, 73-inch wide A290_ß will roll on Renault’s new single-motor front-drive CMF-EV electric vehicle architecture, which has been developed in conjunction with Nissan and Mitsubishi. The platform features a multi-link rear axle for better ride and handling.
While the Renault’s entry-level e-motor is rated at 134 horsepower, however, the A290_ß is expected to start with 215 hp. Torque vectoring will be used to deliver the same stability under braking and acceleration as a mechanical limited slip differential, Brembo brakes will be standard, and the suspension has been tuned with details such as hydraulic bump stops to ensure a controlled yet compliant ride. The A290_ß will be fitted with a new 52 kWh battery pack that is lighter than the similar capacity unit fitted to the current Renault Zoe EV.
CMF-EV is a highly flexible architecture, which means its length and track can be increased to create the Alpine coupe and SUV EVs sized to appeal to American buyers. The platform can also package a rear motor to deliver more power and all-wheel drive.
The A290_ß concept not only suggests future Alpine models will be more powerful and sportier to drive than their Renault counterparts, but will also be more aggressively styled, with aerodynamics fine-tuned by the Alpine F1 team engineers. Expect the distinctive X-shaped light graphic—a nod to the tape put across the headlights of race and rally cars in the 1960s—to be replicated on the production model, and to become a brand signature across the range.
How likely is it Alpine will come to America? It’s more likely that you think. A coming wave of Chinese EVs threatens Renault’s traditional mass-market position in Europe, which is why de Meo says he wants to move the center of gravity of the brand upwards over there. But he also needs to sell more cars in markets where Renault currently doesn’t have a strong presence. Against that background, bringing to America Alpine, with its sports car history and glamorous F1 links giving it a more premium appeal than the quotidian Renault brand, seems like a logical strategy.
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