The new Alpine A110 has been revealed at the Geneva motor show, so we've caught up with Michael van der Sande, the managing director at Alpine.
Is the new A110 a homage to the original?
“You can’t deny the history, but our priority was to pick up elements of the past, not create a pastiche. In essence, that means a lightweight sports car that is fun to drive. Easy to say, harder to do, but we believe our roots have led is to something special. Agility is the differentiator.”
What about price?
“We’ll announce it in time, but around €55-60,000. It will be right for the car’s performance and quality. We have been careful to tread a fine line; we could have cut costs in the interior, for instance, but we wanted a car you could drive all day, not a stripped back sports car. By the same token we couldn’t just throw carbon fibre at it, or do all-bespoke switchgear.”
How have pre-sales of the 1955 launch cars gone?
“Amazingly well. Across Europe the allocations are sold out - we just have a couple of cars for the UK, and an allocation for Japan, where homologation means sales won’t start until 2018.”
What will the dealer network look like?
“It will evolve. We’ll start with 60-70 in Europe, with six or seven in the UK. Most will be shared Renault dealerships, but with an Alpine space, but in time we may have more of our own showrooms. First we must sell this car, and then see if investment in other lines is justified.”
So we should expect derivatives and other model lines?
“A family only makes sense if the DNA of the first family member is good. We have countless ideas and opportunities for the future, but first we must focus on this car. We have more ideas than we do R&D money at the moment.”
Were right-hand drive markets always part of the plan?
“Yes. I can’t imagine this kind of car succeeding without sales in UK, Japan and, in time, New Zealand and Australia. We need to play in the markets of all car lovers.”
What are you sales goals?
“I’m not going to answer that, but the technology has been developed to sell in single digit thousands. We as good as have 1955 pre-orders - now we plan to maintain single digits of thousands of sales every year. That’s the kind of car that it is.”
Will you race and rally the car?
“Alpine has history in both, of course, and in recent years we have won our class at Le Mans. We haven’t decided our 2018 plans yet, but the A110 is clearly a car that lends itself to going round a racetrack. Let’s see. Our story is one of little cars beating more powerful ones - it would be good to continue that.”