Renault Group

Alpine: A unique expertise for the challenges of tomorrow

4 April 2023
Innovation & technology

With the automotive industry's model in the process of being reshaped, Alpine Cars knows it can count on the expertise of its engineering facility in Les Ulis - in the southern Paris suburbs - as it addresses the challenges associated with electrification. Robert Bonetto, VP Alpine Engineering, describes the know-how his teams have acquired over a period of more than 20 years, for much of that time perfecting Renault Sport-badged models.


Renault Sport Technologies officially became Alpine Cars on May 1, 2021, but the engineers working out of the engineering centre did not wait until that watershed date to switch their mindsets to Alpine matters...

We're talking about the same team that revived the A110 by bestowing today's car with the agile handling and level of driving enjoyment that forged the original's reputation back in the day. They succeeded in applying the same qualities to a modern car that can be driven in any circumstances.

Robert Bonetto
VP Alpine Engineering

Three stand-out fields of expertise

Following the launch of Renault's iconic Spider in 1995, Renault Sport's engineers effectively turned their skills to high-performance road cars. For evidence of their achievements, there's no need to look any further than the lap records for front-wheel drive cars they established at Germany's exacting Nürburgring, or the pleasure they have given to owners of R.S.-badged models. "For me, there are three key areas where this know-how has been especially effective," says Robert Bonetto. "Aerodynamics, weight-saving and handling."

When it comes to aerodynamics, Alpine benefits from a particularly stimulating context. "We are fortunate to be part of the Alpine bubble in a very broad sense, and that includes our proximity to the Formula 1 team. Our meetings with our F1 colleagues consistently produce new ideas and they are always keen to contribute to the development of our road cars. The two worlds are very different, but the fundamentals remain pretty much the same, so it's a highly interesting challenge for them. And you can see the fruit of this collaboration in the form of the A110 R's meticulously honed aerodynamics."


The Alpine A110R benefits from highly sophisticated aerodynamic elements, such as its rear spoiler with its so-called ‘swan-neck’ mounts

At the same time, it is no coincidence that the A110 R's wing is made from composite materials. "Light weight is crucial to performance" notes Robert Bonetto. "The A110's all-aluminium, rivet-bonded chassis and bodywork incorporates exclusive technologies that assert our know-how in this field. And while the A110 R makes extensive use of carbon fibre, our A110 E-ternité prototype employs materials that are even more innovative, including flax fibre that is produced in Normandy."


The A110 E-ternity electric prototype, developed by Alpine's engineering teams, is at the cutting edge of innovation, using materials such as flax fibre to reduce its weight

Electrification, a new aspect of everyday motoring

There is another area of expertise at the Alpine’s engineering centre that doesn't immediately strike the eye but which becomes apparent the instant you take to the road in one its cars and which, Robert Bonetto believes, has played a significant part in forging the facility's reputation - handling.

In the days of Renault Sport, the weeks of development groundwork spent at such a demanding and varied proving ground as the Nürburgring contributed to the depth of the team's savoir-faire, not to mention the sensitivity of its test drivers. "They are capable of perceiving a difference of two millimetres in the width of a carbon wheel flange" says Robert Bonetto proudly. "This work also enabled the cars' set-up to be fine-tuned in a way that truly shaped the sports DNA that made us stand out."


Alpine road cars, like the A110 R here, are developed by experienced drivers with extensive know-how

Today, in addition to benefiting the Alpine A110, this collective expertise is being applied extensively already to the conception of the range's upcoming electric models. "The team has been working on the fundamentals, like weight distribution, with one notable outcome being an innovative two-part battery, with one positioned at the front of the car and the other at the rear. They have also developed a specific gearbox for our electric cars with no torque interrupt that allows us to propose a powerful but lightweight solution."


Alpine's future will be electric, but the brand's battery-powered models will lose none of their sportiness, quite the contrary

The fruit of all this work will be revealed in a few months' time. Until then, the brain cells of the engineers will continue to focus on maximising the pleasure it is possible to derive behind the wheel of an electric sports car!