Alpine, Renault's new sports car brand, unveiled the A290 on Thursday, the first in a new family of electric sports cars designed to raise awareness and take advantage of a market that is resisting the current slowdown in battery-powered vehicles.

As part of his turnaround strategy presented in 2021, Renault Group CEO Luca de Meo has made Alpine a fully-fledged unit bringing together all the sports activities of the diamond-shaped group, in order to exploit synergies to the full and develop a "dream garage" of exclusive 100% electric sports models.

The aim is to gain a foothold in the premium electric market, which is holding its own against the backdrop of the current slowdown in demand for battery-powered vehicles: since the start of the year in the European Union, electric vehicles have remained stable at around 17% of the premium market, while they are losing ground in the overall automotive market, dropping to around 12% market share, compared with around 14% in 2023, according to data from S&P Global Mobility.

Of the total electric vehicle market, the premium segment accounted for 25.3% in 2023, rising to 29.3% by the start of 2024.

"The premium segment, whether electric or not, is still holding up better," comments Flavien Neuvy, head of the Cetelem Observatory. "The end of subsidies in Germany, for example, is penalizing the electric market, but the premium segment is less impacted because the more subsidized customers have less need of the subsidies."

Electric powertrains also help reduce average CO2 emissions in vehicle ranges that are particularly exposed to stricter regulations.

The sporty high-end is embodied by prestigious names such as Porsche, cited as a benchmark by Luca de Meo, Ferrari, from which Alpine's current Managing Director hails, and Aston Martin. But Alpine remains more affordable than these three brands, targeting competitors such as Tesla, BMW, Mercedes and Audi (Volkswagen Group).

The 2024 catalog gives a starting price of 65,000 euros for the A110, while the new A290 will start at 38,000 euros.

"Alpine should enable us to cover segments and markets in which the group's other two brands, Renault and Dacia, are not present", explains Denis Schemoul, analyst at S&P Global Mobility.

The electric premium is whetting other appetites, such as those of Cadillac (General Motors).


Currently confined to a single petrol model, the A110 berlinetta, since the relaunch in 2017 of the 1973 world rally champion brand, Alpine aims to move from a niche segment to a comprehensive, global offering to play a key role in improving the manufacturer's profitability and in its geographical expansion beyond Europe.

The ambition is to create a genuine family of 7 electric models by 2030: after the A290, a city car derived from the R5 and destined to appeal to a wider public, Alpine will launch a compact GT crossover next year, and a new A110 - this time electric - on a dedicated APP platform at the end of 2026. This will be followed by a cabriolet version, a larger sports coupé, the A310, and two even larger cars by 2030.

Alpine sold just 4,328 vehicles last year, most of them in Europe, but hopes to break out of this confidentiality by extending its range. Luca de Meo is aiming for sales of two billion euros by 2026 and over eight billion euros by 2030, half of which will be generated outside Europe, and an operating margin of 10% by that time.

In particular, the brand hopes to win over Asia and the United States. To this end, it is counting on its presence in Formula One, even though it has had a difficult season so far.

In addition to pure electrics, it is also working on a large V6 hydrogen combustion engine for possible particularly sporty or high-end versions.

Already well known in Japan, Alpine also sees potential in South Korea and China, a market where it estimates sales of one billion euros by the end of the decade.


The brand, which is still a long way from the 330,600 100% electric models sold last year by BMW, the 222,600 sold by Mercedes or the 178,000 sold by Audi, according to figures compiled by the German magazine Auto Zeitung, appointed Philippe Krief, an expert in the development of high-end sports car ranges, who cut his teeth at Ferrari, to head up the company less than a year ago.

Alpine will also be fielding two hypercars at this weekend's 92nd edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world's premier endurance race, where the A290 was publicly unveiled.

Faithful to the pragmatism of the brand's founder, driver and designer Jean Rédélé, who in the 1950s transformed a simple Renault 4CV into a small car built for the winding roads of the Alps, the A290 uses the AMPR-Small architecture and lines of the new R5, but in supercharged mode.

And for those customers who miss the raucous, backfiring sound of a sporty internal combustion engine, the car, which goes on sale at the end of the year, offers the possibility of hearing a muffled version of the turbine noise characteristic of electric cars in the cabin, thanks to work with French high-end sound specialist Devialet, to enhance driving sensations at high speed.

(Gilles Guillaume reports, with Ilona Wissenbach in Frankfurt, edited by Blandine Hénault)

by Gilles Guillaume