Why Can’t I Buy This Car?!

Motor Trend airs a show called “Head 2 Head.” It is hosted by Jethro Bovingdon and Jonny Lieberman. They are both long-time automotive journalists; Bovingdon is from the UK while Lieberman is American. I think both of them have an anti-American bias when it comes to automobiles, but none of us is completely objective.

The latest episode featured a BMW M2 Competition and an Alpine A110, which is built by Renault. During his time in the A110, Lieberman asked why he couldn’t buy it in the US. He said, and I’m paraphrasing, that the US is one of the two largest automobile markets in the world, is a country with lots of automobile enthusiasts and lots of great roads. (This episode was filmed in Europe.) At the end of the show, and after lots of test driving, the A110 was chosen over the BMW M2.

When Carlos Ghosn was still in charge of the Nissan-Renault Alliance he said that Renault would not be re-introduced into the US market. Why not? Some of the reasons are rules and regulations established by the DOT and the EPA. What cracks me up is that many Americans think that Europe is a place where people have no freedom and the government micromanages everyone’s life. Still, the A110 is available there, but not here.

Don’t kid yourself; a lot of these rules and regulations were simply adopted after lobbying by American car companies in order to reduce foreign competition. I also think that after Americans showed an inclination to buy SUVs, the car companies pushed their marketing in that direction because SUVs have a higher profit margin than cars.

Of course, Renault did not have a lot of success selling cars in the US and may have poisoned the well when it basically took over American Motors Corporation and built a lot of products that were not well-received. However, that was a long time ago; AMC was purchased by Chrysler in 1987.

From Auto Evolution a picture of the modern Alpine A110:


See the source image


It is a mid-engined two-seater, powered by a turbocharged inline-four cylinder engine of 1.8 liters/110 cubic inches in displacement that produces 249 HP/236 LB-FT of torque. If that output doesn’t sound impressive, consider that the car weighs less than 2,500 pounds. A 2020 Dodge Challenger with an 8-cylinder engine weighs over 4,000 pounds. Oh, the A110 only comes with a 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission.

Even if I could afford to do so, it would be illegal for me to buy one of these in Europe and bring it to the US. That just doesn’t sound right to me. No, I do not believe in unconstrained freedom, but why is this car illegal and some monstrous SUV legal? Sorry, but that’s just wrong.

Does anyone have any opinions on this matter that they’d like to share?






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