Lotus and Alpine will work together to develop a new electric sports car. The two companies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding looking at various areas of collaboration – including motorsport.
We have no details yet on how the joint project will look, or its market positioning, but it could serve as a replacement for the Alpine A110 and Lotus Elise and/or Evora.
Lotus has already made clear its commitment to EVs. Its flagship Evija, revealed in 2019 and now entering production, has ‘lightest, most energy dense electric power package ever fitted to a road car’.
Alpine to enter Formula E
The press release also states ‘a collaboration to leverage Alpine’s motorsport platform covering Formula One to Formula E and Endurance is also under study’. At a time when other marques, such as Audi and BMW, are abandoning Formula E, this seems a bold move. It could potentially mean the return of Lotus to top-level racing, too.
In an exclusive interview, Lotus CEO Phil Popham told us the British marque will launch one final car powered solely by internal combustion. This vehicle – likely to be badged ‘Esprit’ in homage to one of Lotus’ greatest sports cars – was originally due in late 2020, but has been delayed by the pandemic.
Beyond this, Popham stated “every new Lotus model will offer electrification” – meaning hybrids or full EVs. He continued: “We have many people working on new platforms, but they typically take at least four years to develop. For now, Lotus is focused on sports cars, although we believe the brand has enough strength and equity to move into other segments.”
Beyond a new Esprit
The Lotus-Alpine deal could also lead to consultancy work for other manufacturers, says Popham: “The joint-services element of our agreement will additionally make our engineering expertise available to those wishing to engage our innovations.”
Lotus has a rich history of working for other brands. In a separate interview, chief aerodynamicist Richard Hill told us about his work on a radical Chevrolet Corvette concept – and the famous Lotus Type 108 bicycle, which Chris Boardman rode to Olympic gold in 1992.
Other cars honed in Hethel range from the iconic Lotus Carlton to the Proton Satria GTI.
‘Our companies have much in common’
Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi said: “Both brands have an amazing legacy and we are most excited to start this work together, from engineering tailored solutions to developing a next-generation EV sports car.
“We’re putting F1 at the heart of our business, leveraging our in-house expertise and best-in-class partners such as Lotus to inject our cars with leading-edge performance, technology and motorisation”.
Phil Popham added: “Our companies have much in common – from a pioneering pedigree in light-weighting, to championship-winning sports cars which perform as impressively on the road as they do in the motorsports arena.
“It is a natural fit in many ways and the co-development of an EV sportscar is hugely exciting for our companies, our fans and customers around the world.”
Tim Pitt writes for Motoring Research