French performance brand Alpine is "very actively" exploring the use of hydrogen as a means of safeguarding the future of the combustion engine, both in racing and in road cars.
The company recently collaborated with students at the European Institute of Design in Turin to create the radical A4810 concept - an outlandish vision of what an Alpine hypercar could look like in 2035, and hypothetically powered by hydrogen.
Whether the concept used a hydrogen-combustion engine or a more conventional hydrogen fuel cell arrangement was not clarified, but now Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi has given the first indications that the company is committed to keeping combustion technology in its portfolio, and hydrogen could be the key.
Speaking at Silverstone ahead of the 2022 British Grand Prix, Rossi told Autocar: "It’s only normal we look at parallel paths - and I say parallel on purpose; the idea is we want to find alternatives that are not necessarily incompatible with electrification, because electrification is – whether we like it or not – the future of automotive for at least 60-70% of the automotive parc.
“For the rest, it will depend on the type of usage, the characteristics, the features you want to have - I’m thinking LCVs with a high payload and fixed trips could afford to use different solutions, or high-output cars."
Alpine has previously been lined up for reinvention as an all-electric performance brand from 2024, confirming plans for a hot hatch based on the Renault 5 electric supermini, the larger 2025 Alpine GT X-Over and an electric successor to the Alpine A110 sports car. But Rossi's latest comments suggest combustion-powered sports cars could still play a role in the brand's line-up, going forward.
He said that in terms of future-proofing low-volume, 'high-output' sports cars, "sustainable fuels could be the solution".
“In our case, we believe hydrogen as a fuel could be one. Hydrogen has the green merit of being very compatible with electrification, because the parallel path to hydrogen as a fuel is hydrogen as a fuel cell, which produces electricity.