Renault Group

Alpine A290: a made-to-measure partnership with Michelin

21 December 2023
Innovation & technology

In order to carry over the A110's hallmark agility and fun-to-drive reputation to the upcoming A290 electric city car, Alpine Cars brought in Michelin to develop the tyres for the first of the brand's 'Dream Garage' models. Philippe Mérimée, the man in charge of ride and handling at Alpine, and Frédéric Brigaud, Michelin's Technical Account Manager for Alpine, talk about the two companies' near-fusional association.


As the only point of contact between a vehicle and the road, tyres play a core role in determining the dynamic qualities of any car. They are even more critical when it comes to sports cars like the A110. Alpine consequently had no hesitation when it started planning for the upcoming A290...

It's on Michelins that the Alpine A110 emerged as a market benchmark in terms of ride dynamics. Why would we have looked elsewhere for the A290's tyres?

Philippe Mérimée
Ride and Handling Manager, Alpine

A longstanding association founded on innovation

The partnership that exists between the two companies today stands all the more to reason in that it follows a long tradition that dates back to the 1960s, at a time when Michelin was committed to the development of radial technology which was revolutionising the world of tyres. Equipping Alpine's Formula 3 single-seaters, which featured adjustable suspension, contributed to fine-tuning the concept and eliminating the phenomenon of breakaway at high speed that was hindering the work of Michelin's engineers.

The two companies have continued to collaborate closely ever since, in the realms of both production cars and motorsport. It is effectively with Alpine that Michelin introduced racing's first slicks, at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1967. The idea was immediately snapped up by Formula 1! It was also with Alpine and Michelin that radial technology triumphed for the first time in the World Rally Championship (in 1973 ) and at Le Mans (1978).

Given the A110's more recent success, there was every reason to extend the collaboration in the form of an exclusive partnership. “The value of our association stems from the fact that it made it possible to lay the foundations for a genuine joint-development project at a very early stage,” underlines Alpine's ride and handling expert, Philippe Mérimée.

Tires for Alpine A290 100% electric city car were developed by Michelin as part of an exclusive partnership.

Tyre sizes a joint decision

To switch from the rear-wheel drive A110 and its internal-combustion engine to the all-electric, front-wheel drive A290, the brief necessarily covered areas that were completely new to Alpine. “We had to reappraise the brand's values,” observes Philippe Mérimée. “When it comes to electric vehicles, frugal energy consumption is a key parameter.”

Vehicle manufacturers tend to dictate tyre sizes to their supplier, but Michelin had a close involvement in this highly strategic decision-making process concerning the A290. “Tyre size is fundamental to achieving the required levels of dynamic performance, resilience, mass, range and energy efficiency,” says Michelin's Technical Account Manager for Alpine, Frédéric Brigaud.

The choice for the A290 has finally settled on 225-40-R19, which equates to a tread width of 225mm, combined with a 40% height to width ratio for the sidewalls and an interior diameter of 19 inches. Meanwhile, two distinct ranges have been selected for the model: the Pilot Sport S5, a performance-bred tyre available exclusively as an original-equipment fitment, and the Pilot Sport EV which places the emphasis more on energy efficiency through low rolling resistance.

Michelin was closely involved in the strategic choice of tire size for Alpine A290.

A project initiated in 2021

Alpine and Michelin's technical cooperation on the A110 started in 2012. That involving the A290 began in 2021. “At that point, nothing actually tangible even existed,” notes Frédéric Brigaud, “but we were capable of working on the brief with the elements we had in virtual form.”

The two entities were subsequently able to commence the development process per se, including a joint testing programme to evaluate tyre options fitted to a preparatory laboratory car that foreshadowed the forthcoming model. The majority of these tests – usually a week or so long - took place at Michelin's proving ground in Ladoux, near Clermont-Ferrand, France, where a wide spectrum of conditions can be replicated, including a wet surface with a consistent depth of water. The next joint test will take place early in 2024, at the Indra facility in southern Spain.

The data obtained in the course of this development loop will be invaluable in establishing the final specification of the A290's tyres ahead of the Alpine city car's revelation to the public next year.

Alpine 290β foreshadows the future Alpine A290 100% electric city car, to be revealed in 2024.