But 48V technology isn't off the table, if BMW gets on board
Alpina isn't in any hurry to adopt electrified powertrains, arguing its customers want big-capacity engines from their cars rather than plug-in hybrids or battery-electric vehicles.
Speaking with media at an event in Melbourne this week, Andreas Bovensiepen, Alpina's CEO and son of the brand's founder, said its owners are still attached to old-fashioned characteristics in their cars.
"Currently, especially in our target group, the people like to have the emotion, the sound and they like to go and accelerate fast," Bovensiepen told the assembled crowd.
"We in Germany have about 1500 people buying a Tesla Model S, but if you look at the motorway in Germany they go 100km/h, maximum 120km/h because otherwise they run out of battery too fast," he continued.
"It's not a car for our type of customer. I think, a little bit currently – but it's only a personal view – this whole topic is too much in focus by politicians, and of course with the media right now."
Even the mild-hybrid 48V integrated starter-generator systems popping up in Mercedes-Benz and Audi vehicles, which don't require any space-sucking batteries or large electric motors, are a more natural fit.
"These will come," the CEO said. "BMW will come up, in the next years, with this kind of technique and of course we will overtake this. This makes sense, of course.... this is very attractive."
Because of the way Alpina operates, developing its cars on the base set by BMW, it's largely tied to the technology direction dictated by Munich. At the moment, the only hybrids in the mainstream BMW range combine four-cylinder engines with electric motors – not an attractive configuration for luxury buyers used to six-, eight- or 12-cylinder cars.
Given the Alpina CEO sees Mercedes-AMG CLS and S-Class models as the brand's biggest rival in North America and Audi RS variants as a threat in the European market, smaller displacement engines aren't exactly a natural fit.
The company also has some time to prepare for the tightening emissions regulations facing European carmakers. Because it has a small yearly turnover, Alpina doesn't have to meet the 95g/km fleet target coming in 2021, instead negotiating a goal with regulators. Currently, that goal sits at 210g/km.
Although it's a standalone German manufacturer for emissions purposes, Alpina cars use BMW crash test results, and actually carry two VIN numbers: one for the BMW bits, and another for the modified Alpina parts.