Caterham and Renault to launch sports car partnership

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I don’t claim to be the business wiz that Negative Camber is, so I can’t say for sure if this story is a big deal in either Formula 1 circles or the luxury car market.

But I do know communications, and I know a great quote when I see it. So that I will highlight along with pointing out to you that Caterham and Renault have announced they will partner in order to build sports cars. Link to the news here, with some excerpts:

The Caterham Group and French carmaker Renault have announced a new project to design and build sports cars. Renault already supply Caterham’s Formula One team with engines and the new venture, set to be created in January 2013, will be called the Société des Automobiles Alpine Caterham.

[snip]

The Caterham Group will own a 50 per cent stake in the Automobiles Alpine Renault company, which is currently 100 per cent held by Renault SAS. The sports cars will be built at the Alpine plant in Dieppe, France.

“This innovative partnership with Caterham embodies a longstanding ambition: the creation of a sports car with the Alpine DNA,” said Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of Renault. “It carries both opportunities for the Dieppe plant and the development of its historic know-how.”

Now, on to that quote:

“Formula One was always our entry point into the car business,” explained Caterham Group deputy chairman Dato Kamarudin Meranun. “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.

“[I]n spectacular and well-documented style,” you think? The existence of multiple Lotus teams, Group Lotus’ participation, the advent of the pretty much name-only Team Lotus, etc. etc. Yeah, I think that was mildly spectacular.

Let’s get back to the news. I would assume that this development signals a stronger position in coming seasons for Caterham, despite being behind Marussia and all the money that 10th place could hold. (Listen to recent podcasts to get more on that.) On the sports car front, perhaps company bosses are seeing signs of a growing economy that could have some room for a new top-end sports car brand. I might suggest trying to grab the “clean” sports car niche before Porsche takes it.

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