Automotive: Alpine may bypass dealerships in the USA to start

Renault SA may team up with US dealer AutoNation Inc. to start sales of Alpine sports cars in the country, part of a plan to build out the brand that currently sells just a few thousand vehicles.

The French carmaker is also pursuing some other options for Alpine to move into North America, Chief Executive Officer Luca de Meo said Thursday. Renault has made Alpine, which was restarted in 2017 and makes only the A110 sports coupe, one of the pillars of its new strategy.

“It’s not easy because we are not present in the US and we have to start from scratch,” de Meo said on the sidelines of Renault’s earnings presentation. Working with AutoNation, helmed by former Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley, could take the form of a partnership that goes beyond placing cars in dealerships, he said.

The automaker is embarking on a sweeping overhaul after a tough twelve months marked by a costly withdrawal from Russia and a landmark deal to reshape its troubled alliance with Nissan Motor Co. The manufacturer is reorganizing into five different units spanning electric cars, combustion- and hybrid-engine assets, the Alpine sports-car brand, financial services and new mobility and recycling businesses.

The hard-won agreement with Nissan from earlier this month is clearing the way for Renault to work with new partners, including deals with China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. and Qualcomm Inc.

The company is “not stopping here” on partnerships, de Meo said earlier during an analyst call.”