Alpine Cars Could Be Sold in America at US AutoNation Dealerships

Alpine hasn’t been shy about selling cars in the U.S. The tie-up would go a long way in establishing a dealer network for a quick entry.

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Alpine Cars Could Be Sold in America at US AutoNation Dealerships © Alpine Cars Could Be Sold in America at US AutoNation Dealerships

French automaker Renault may be eyeing U.S. dealership giant AutoNation as a distributor for its boutique Alpine sports car brand in America, the brand’s CEO said.

“It’s not easy because we are not present in the U.S. and we have to start from scratch,” Renault CEO Luca de Meo said during a presentation for investors, according to Automotive News

It’s not the first time the sports car maker has made intimations of offering cars in the U.S. Last month, Alpine’s own CEO Laurent Rossi told reporters that the automaker would like to sell two electric SUVs in the U.S. by the end of the decade, roughly like the Porsche Cayenne and Macan. Alpine’s only car on sale in Europe is the A110, a small two-seat, gas-powered sports car that would roughly rival the Porsche 718 in price and performance. Last year, Alpine made only 3,500 cars, but Rossi expects that number to balloon to 150,000 by 2030 by selling cars in North America—especially the U.S. 

It's unclear what role AutoNation could play in Alpine’s overall plan; whether the dealer group would function as a turnkey sales and service group, only sales, or merely a conduit for interested buyers to order the sports cars. Renault hasn’t sold a car in the U.S. for more than 30 years after the Chrysler brand dropped rebadged Renault vehicles in the late 1980s and early 1990s. 

Since then, Renault has been largely kept at arm’s length thanks to the Nissan-Renault Alliance, which effectively kept Renault from competing with Nissan in the U.S. Since the slow dissolution of the Alliance after its former CEO Carlos Ghosn’s scandal, Renault has been more vocal about its intent to re-enter the U.S. 

Offering the small Alpine sports car marque would be an easy entry, mimicking Alfa Romeo’s path to re-entry into the U.S. market. In 2016, Alfa Romeo returned to the U.S. with the 4C sports car, which was sold in very small numbers, before bringing more models in for 2017 and 2018. The CEO of Alfa Romeo’s then-parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles during most of Alfa Romeo’s return was Mike Manley, who is now CEO of AutoNation. 

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