Renault may close French plants to cut costs, reports say

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PARIS — Renault is considering closing component and assembly plants in France as part of a 2 billion euro ($2.2 billion) cost-cutting plan, French news media reported.

Among the factories said to be in danger are Renault’s assembly plant in Flins, near Paris, which builds the Renault Zoe EV and Nissan Micra small hatchback. The plant, with 2,600 workers, could be converted to other uses after the Zoe’s life cycle ends in 2022, according to reports in financial daily Les Echos and the political newspaper Le Canard Enchaine.

Last year some 160,000 cars were built at Flins, which was upgraded in 2018 to increase Zoe capacity. About 18,000,000 vehicles have been built at the factory since it opened in 1952, including key Renault models such as the Dauphine, Renault 4, Twingo and Clio. The plant lost an important portion of its production last year when Renault decided to move all Clio assembly to Turkey and Slovenia.

Renault’s factory in Dieppe, northwest France, which builds the limited-production Alpine sports car, is likely to be closed in the near future, the reports said. The factory, which employs about 400 people, is one of the smallest in the Renault-Nissan alliance, and in the past it has built Renault Sport editions as well as Bollore BlueCar EVs under contract.

Two parts factories will also reportedly be closed: A plant in Choisy-le-Roi near Paris that reconditions components and employs about 250 people; and a casting foundry in Morbihan, west France, that employs about 400 people.

Renault did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Interim CEO Clothilde Delbos is to present details of the cost-cutting plan on May 28, and alliance partner Nissan will announce its own cutbacks on the same day. Profits have plunged at both automakers following the November 2018 arrest of former alliance chief Carlos Ghosn on charges of financial mismanagement.

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Saurabh Shukla

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