Alpine: What Is This Brand and When Will It Be Sold in the U.S.?
This sports-car maker wants to position itself as France's answer to Porsche.
French carmakers haven't been present in the United States since Peugeot left in 1991, and the volume-oriented ones aren't planning to return to our shores any time soon. However, the small Renault-owned sports-car manufacturer Alpine has its sights on these shores and hopes to start selling vehicles here by decade's end.
Alpines Are Winners
In 1955, French pilot and Renault dealer Jean Rédélé founded Alpine, a name inspired by the country's mountains where he raced a Renault 4CV. That car served as the building block for Alpine's first vehicle, the A106 coupe, which Rédélé developed with motorsports in mind. The marque remained relatively obscure until 1962, when it released the A110 sports car. Built using Renault-derived parts to keep costs in check, that model gathered a loyal following on and off the track by offering agile handling and an excellent power-to-weight ratio. It won the World Rally Championship's inaugural round in 1973.
The A110's successor, the A310, made its debut in 1971, although the two coupes were sold side by side until 1977. The car's angular design blazed the path that future Alpines followed, and it went through several visual and mechanical evolutions until the Porsche-fighting GTA took its place in 1985. Alpine's next car, the A610, arrived in 1991 with the evolution of the GTA's mid-mounted V6 engine and retired when the brand shut down in 1995 due to slow sales.
Alpine A110 Takes on the Porsche Cayman
Renault bought Alpine in 1973, shuttered it 22 years later, and resurrected the brand in 2017, launching the second-generation A110 to take on the Porsche 718 Cayman in many markets, but not in the U.S. Nimble with a retro feel and powered by a mid-mounted engine, the A110 stays true to Alpines of old. It currently makes up the entirety of the marque's production-car lineup and comes in several variants.
Alpine's Plan for Coming Stateside
Alpine tried entering the U.S. market in the late 1980s with a country-specific version of the GTA. It built about two dozen examples before executives pulled the plug on the project as well as all U.S.-bound Renaults. After leaving our market in 1987, Renault has yet to reenter the U.S. fray, but company CEO Luca de Meo told news outlets that he is looking at ways to distribute the Alpine brand here, possibly through Florida-based retailer AutoNation.
We likely won't see the current A110 on our shores because it wasn't designed to comply with U.S. safety and emissions regulations, but Alpine's next generation of vehicles will include a pair of electric crossovers that could spearhead the brand's U.S. presence. According to Automotive News, Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi said that the EVs will take aim at Porsche's Macan and Cayenne, but don't expect to see them until 2027 at the earliest.