Renault and Caterham launch Alpine sports car venture

The French carmaker Renault and British manufacturer Caterham said Monday that they would jointly produce a new line of sports cars that would incorporate "the DNA of the Alpine," an iconic Renault model.

CEO of French carmaker Renault Carlos Ghosn (L) shakes hands with Malaysian chairman of British coach builder Caterham, Tony Fernandes next to a Renault Alpine A-110, on November 5, 2012 in Paris. ©AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS GUILLOT

Caterham is to acquire 50 percent of Renault's sports car division Automobile Alpine Renault and together the manufacturers would create the Societe des Automobile Alpine Caterham in January 2013, a statement said.

That company would produce "its own vehicles which will hit the market four years from now," Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn told a press conference. They are to be built at a Renault factory in Dieppe, in northwestern France.

Renault had already floated plans to revive the classic style of the Alpine 110, which dominated sports car rallies up to the 1970s before it was discontinued.

The new model will have the "DNA of the Alpine," the statement said.

The Dieppe factory already produces RS sport versions of Renault's Megane and Clio models.

Ghosn noted that the sports car market is flourishing, with 600,000 vehicles sold last year, while European auto manufacturers in particular are struggling with weaker sales of mass-market autos.

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