DIEPPE, France — For enthusiasts, Maranello, Italy, and Stuttgart, Germany, evoke images of high-performance sports cars from Ferrari and Porsche. Could Dieppe, France, someday join their ranks?
Dieppe, a small coastal town in Normandy, is the birthplace of Renault's Alpine brand, which has restarted production after a break of more than 20 years.
Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn, with French economic minister Bruno Le Maire, inaugurated the production line for the new A110 this month. It was a big day for Renault, which now has a premium, midengine sports car to compete with Porsche's Cayman and the Alfa Romeo 4C.
It was an equally significant event for Dieppe, which is among the poorest communities in the Normandy region of northwest France. In the past two years 150 workers have been hired at the Alpine plant, increasing the work force to about 400 people, and €36 million ($42 million) have been invested, some of that from the governments of France and Normandy. Signs proclaiming "Alpine Made in Dieppe" greet visitors to the town, and "Alpine Is Back" banners hang inside and outside the plant.