Alpine's stunning hydrogen-hybrid Alpenglow concept
Alpine's street cars might not be known for outrageous design, but this Alpenglow concept would grab its share of eyeballs even parked next to a Delage D12, an Aston Martin Valkyrie and a Bugatti Bolide. Plus, it's noisy. Plus, it's zero-emissions.
It follows another, similarly provocative hydrogen hypercar design, the A4810, which Alpine unveiled in March 2022, and which our own C.C. Weiss described as looking like "an intergalactic fighter jet." It's no mean feat, but the Alpenglow manages to make the A4810 look a bit conventional and sensible in comparison.
Less than a meter (3.3 ft) high, this low-slung bullet of a thing has the proportions of a futuristic Le Mans racer. Its lines look so slippery you'd expect it to be nearly as fast underwater as on land, complete with a single-seat jet-fighter cabin, a massive double-wing structure at the back, and a set of jagged-looking LED tail lights that extend far further back than the tail fins on a '57 T-Bird.
If the huge splitter and gaping vents at the front look like they mean business, wait'll you see the back end. There's... Just about nothing there. The cabin pinches down to a teardrop at the back, leaving a gaping space under the rear wings. The rear wheels thus need inner bodywork, and a single fin down the middle under the cabin separates the sides into what's probably the biggest diffuser setup we've ever seen.
Do these aeros work? Who knows. They won't ever have to, being as how the Alpenglow is just a concept machine, but they certainly give the impression of a car with the kind of downforce that'd let you drive it upside down at walking pace.
The powertrain is interesting, too. Like Britain's saucy Viritech Apricale and California's alien-looking Hyperion XP-1, the Alpenglow runs on hydrogen. Both of these massively powerful, long-range beasts, though, run all that hydrogen through a fuel cell, recovering electricity to drive a fully electric drivetrain.
Alpine is taking a different approach, and possibly one more friendly to today's petrolheads – because fuel cells are just one way to get energy back out of hydrogen. You can also burn it in a combustion engine, leaving water as the main emission, and that's the plan here.
If you're the kind of person that feels electric vehicles lack emotion, gear shifting, the feeling of mechanical complexity and the hair-raising soundtrack of a good combustion engine, hydrogen combustion engines offer the chance to hoon forth into a zero-emissions world without losing any of this stuff – provided you're willing to give up the convenience of home EV charging, and put up with typical combustion-engine levels of maintenance.
Toyota is well down this path already, particularly in its racing program. Renault, too, has presented other combustion concepts, including a fairly humble-looking roadgoing hatch.
Given that the press release speaks of tuneable regenerative braking, it seems the Alpenglow will run some kind of hybrid powertrain, perhaps using electric motors on the front wheels and routing the ICE shunt from the main engine to the rear wheels. There's no mention of peak power, torque, performance or range, which is fine, since this is little more than a fantasy machine anyway.
We're late to the punch on this one; the Alpenglow rolled out at last year's Paris Motor Show. As a pure concept, this machine "paves the way for future models, for both the racetrack and open road." We can only say we'd love to see a back end like this somehow tiptoe its way through street homologation. Hell of a job, design team!
Check out a video below.