Caterham and Renault may have become a recognised combination on the grand prix grid over the past two years, but look set to extend their working relationship into other areas.
The Caterham Group has revealed that it is to join forces with Renault to design, develop and build 'distinctive' sportscars that will carry the respective DNA of two famous sporting brands, Alpine and Caterham.
The UK-based, Malaysian-owned Caterham Group will take a 50 per cent stake in the Automobiles Alpine Renault company, which is currently 100 per cent held by Renault SAS. The Société des Automobiles Alpine Caterham which results from the partnership will take effect from January 2013.
“I have not felt as excited about a new venture since I launched AirAsia in 2001, and I want to thank Carlos Ghosn and Carlos Tavares and everyone in our new Renault family for having the belief in Caterham Group to create this partnership,” chairman Tony Fernandes acknowledged.
“Many people doubted us eleven years ago when we launched our airline and I am sure that there will be doubters again this time, but we will not fail your trust. We know the markets we are going into and, particularly in my playground in Asia, there is a huge opportunity to replicate the AirAsia model and give consumers access to exciting, affordable products that marry our interests in F1 and technology and help make their dreams come true.”
The new partnership will be managed by Bernard Ollivier, who will oversee production at the Alpine plant in Dieppe. The project, which ensures the Dieppe plant a sustainable future, was made possible thanks to substantial support and commitment provided by both the French government and the Région Haute Normandie, which also involved the contribution of Dieppe Maritime.
“This innovative partnership with Caterham embodies a longstanding ambition: the creation of a sports car with the Alpine DNA,” Renault chairman and CEO Ghosn commented, “It carries both opportunities for the Dieppe plant and the development of its historic know-how.”
The partnership picks up from where Fernandes' ambitions of establishing his group as a major player in the sportscar market foundered with Lotus.
“F1 was always our entry point into the car business,” Caterham deputy chairman Dato Kamarudin Meranun emphasised, “Our original plans to develop a partnership with Lotus were put aside in spectacular and well documented style, but now we have a far better chance to develop Caterham Cars in partnership with Renault, working with Caterham Technology who are also integrally involved in this new venture.