In a move to ensure the agility and driving excitement synonymous with Alpine’s A110 in its new electric city car, the A290, Alpine Cars has partnered with Michelin for tyre development. This collaboration marks the first step in Alpine’s ‘Dream Garage’ project. Alpine’s Ride and Handling Manager, Philippe Mérimée, and Michelin’s Technical Account Manager for Alpine, Frédéric Brigaud, highlight the long-standing and deeply integrated relationship between the two companies.
The critical role of tyres, being the sole point of contact between a vehicle and the road, is especially pivotal in sports cars like the A110. This understanding guided Alpine’s decision to continue its partnership with Michelin for the A290. “Michelins were key to the A110’s acclaim in ride dynamics; it was natural to continue with them for the A290,” Philippe Mérimée commented.
Decades of Innovation and Collaboration
The Alpine-Michelin partnership dates back to the 1960s, a period marked by Michelin’s development of radial technology. This collaboration was instrumental in advancing tyre design, as seen in Alpine’s Formula 3 cars. Over the years, the partnership has extended to both production cars and motorsports. Notably, Michelin introduced the first racing slicks with Alpine at the 1967 Le Mans 24 Hours. Their joint efforts also led to radial technology’s victories in the World Rally Championship and at Le Mans.
Given the A110’s success, extending this partnership for the A290 was a logical step. “Our collaboration laid the groundwork for a joint-development project from an early stage,” noted Mérimée.
Joint Decisions on Tyre Design
Transitioning from the A110’s rear-wheel drive and combustion engine to the all-electric, front-wheel drive A290 presented new challenges. “Reassessing the brand’s values for an electric vehicle, where energy efficiency is paramount, was essential,” Mérimée stated. Unlike typical manufacturer-supplier relationships, Michelin played a significant role in deciding tyre sizes for the A290. “Tyre size is crucial for performance, resilience, mass, range, and energy efficiency,” Brigaud explained.
The chosen size for the A290 is 225-40-R19, with two distinct ranges: the performance-focused Pilot Sport S5 and the energy-efficient Pilot Sport EV.
A Project Rooted in Early Collaboration
The technical cooperation between Alpine and Michelin for the A290 began in 2021. “We started with virtual elements before tangible development,” Brigaud noted. The joint testing programme, including evaluations at Michelin’s Ladoux facility and the upcoming tests at the Indra facility in Spain, will inform the final tyre specifications for the A290, set for a public reveal in mid-2024.