Over the years, the automotive industry has brought us exciting partnerships from around the world, combining the expertise and heritage of different manufacturers to create an innovative product or idea that not only reduces costs for both parties but helps them progress in the rapidly evolving environment.
Last week we saw a very exciting partnership; this time with two of my favourite brands. British sports car manufacturer Lotus and French motorsport icon Alpine have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop an electric sports car together.
If there was ever a recipe for success for a lightweight electric sports car, it would be these two companies coming together. The engagement of a lightweight two-seater mixed with the responsiveness of an electric powertrain will surely provide an experience like no other vehicle on the market today.
To find out more, Auto Futures speaks with Lotus CEO Phil Popham, to discuss the thinking behind teaming up with a company like Renault and its Alpine brand.
“Like Lotus, Alpine is quite unique and similar; it is a low volume, dedicated sports car maker with its own unique brand values and characteristics,” explains Popham. “We have much in common, and it makes sense across the global automotive world – as is increasingly common – to collaborate and benefit from shared resources and economies of scale. Lotus, and especially Lotus Engineering, has a long history of such successful collaborations, with the likes of General Motors, Tesla and many others.”
The Alpine and Lotus teams will utilise the joint engineering, design and development of the electric sportscar by leveraging the resources, expertise and facilities in both France and the UK. A collaboration to leverage Alpine’s motorsport platform covering Formula One to Formula E and Endurance is also being established.
“The Lotus Engineering consultancy will undertake the development work, working closely with Alpine, to deliver a new EV sports car architecture,” continues Popham. “Both Lotus and Alpine will be beneficiaries of the new platform, on which both brands will look to introduce new EV sports cars.”
As this partnership was only confirmed last week, we are yet to find out all of the agreed details. So far, we can expect to see a flexible and modular platform that is capable of delivering multiple sports cars of different attributes, characteristics and styles. Fingers crossed, we could also see an electric, lightweight Alpine A110 successor.
Lotus is already working on the first all-electric British hypercar, the Evija, which made its world debut back in 2019. Combined with Renault’s experience with electric vehicles, this new vehicle from the two could be very exciting.
“Evija is a very unique offering,” says Popham. “It is the fastest, most exclusive and among the most expensive production hypercars in the world. What we are talking about in this project between Lotus and Alpine is a much more accessible EV sports car that will be available in greater production numbers than Evija. So, to be honest, the two will be very different.”
Popham hopes to achieve a fruitful and prosperous relationship alongside Alpine and the Renault Group.
“This is a very exciting and expansive memorandum of understanding which will accelerate quickly through the course of 2021,” he says. “We are looking towards the co-development of an EV sports car, that we have the joint-services engineering expertise to be marketed – in other words, we are happy to make the technology underpinning the new sports car available to third parties and of course to explore motorsport opportunities together.”
Further down the line, the joint venture between Lotus and Alpine will offer the technology and architecture developed to third parties. This means that other OEMs can utilise the platform to introduce a sports car of their own. Through this, Popham hopes to play his part in the explosive growth of the EV market.
This is only the start for both companies, so expect some exciting developments in the coming months.