While electric cars are booming in popularity, electric convertibles are few and far between because the extra strengthening needed adds weight and affects range. Packaging an EV powertrain is difficult, too. However, Alpine will debut its A110 E-ternité demo car at the French Formula 1 Grand Prix. It’ll be Alpine’s first electric car and the first A110 with a convertible roof.
Before you get out your wallet, though, the A110 E-ternité is a ‘rolling laboratory’ – essentially an exploratory concept car that allows Alpine to experiment with multiple innovations at a time. Alpine has committed to an electric future, so it’s taken the opportunity to showcase an electric powertrain for the first time.
Alpine’s goal with the electric A110 was to match the performance of the standard ICE car. The manufacturer borrowed the same batteries as used in parent company Renault’s Megane E-Tech to produce 238bhp and 221lb ft of torque to the A110’s wheels. This means it’s capable of a 0-62mph time of 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 155mph.
More importantly, however, Alpine wanted to keep the car’s weight distribution about the same, too. The E-ternité’s batteries weigh in at 392kg, but the car itself is just 258kg heavier than the ICE version. Engineers had to redesign the battery casings and internal architecture of the car to achieve the right distribution, arranging the modules in an unconventional way. Four were placed at the front, with the other eight at the back. The result is a 42/58 split – almost identical to that of the standard A110.
Not all the car’s underpinnings were borrowed from the Renault group, though – Alpine designed a bespoke double-clutch two-speed gearbox to best put down the E-ternité’s electric power.
Other innovations for the E-ternité include a feature many have been asking for – a removable roof. We have to say it isn’t the most elegant solution we’d have imagined – it just looks like an awkward cutout for the driver to eject the passenger through at the touch of a button, à la James Bond. Alpine says, however, that this simple solution enables the car to keep its rigidity without adding weight – its removable roof shells are designed and crafted from carbon fibre in-house.
Light weight and sustainability are the focal points of the interior, too. Alpine used environmentally friendly materials such as flax – something they tout as the ‘material of the future.’ A second demo car uses this more extensively on exterior elements such as the bonnet, roof, rear window, grille, seat shells and rear skirt.
The A110 E-ternité also allows the driver to use their own Android tablet as the infotainment screen to keep everything centralised, and this can be used to control the car’s new upgraded eight-speaker surround sound system.
The Alpine A110 E-ternité hasn’t been announced for production, but there are rumours it could be offered as a limited-run model to bridge the gap between the current ICE A110 and Alpine’s upcoming electric sports car which is due in 2025 and being developed alongside Lotus. Watch this space.