PARIS: Renault SA is leaning towards developing the platform for its new Alpine sports-car models on its own rather than pursuing co-development with Geely’s Lotus Cars, according to people familiar with the situation.
The French carmaker’s engineers have sufficient expertise to make the platform, which the company views as a key piece of rebooting its brand, said the people.
Lotus is controlled by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co.
The likely decision doesn’t reflect soured relations with Geely, with which Renault partners on other projects, two of the people said, who asked not to be identified discussing private information.
Renault chief executive officer Luca de Meo has been working to turn around the French carmaker, boosting Alpine’s allure and pushing ahead on electrification.
As part of that plan, he rebranded the company’s Formula 1 team as Alpine, and is now developing a full line up of sports-car models to follow.
Best known for its A110 sports coupé, Alpine is set to become fully electric as of 2026.
A spokesman for Alpine said the company is still in discussions with Lotus about the project and the company will communicate a final decision in due course.
A spokesman for Renault declined to comment. Media representatives from Lotus didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Meanwhile, Renault’s talks are ongoing with AutoNation Inc. to start sales of the Alpine sports cars in the US, the people said.
An initial public offering of Alpine is a possibility in the longer term, the 55-year-old CEO said earlier this month.
The company also is reviewing possible investors to help fund its development, he said.
Alpine sales rose 33% last year to 3,546 cars, compared with Renault’s total shipments of about 2.1 million vehicles.
Fans of the Alpine Formula 1 team, which over the past decades clinched numerous racing titles, including a 1978 win at Le Mans, will be converging in the brand’s hometown of Dieppe, France, this weekend to celebrate the victory of its first World Rally Championship 50 years ago.