A year ago I reported how Renault was using French Government money in exchange for keeping jobs in France. Then Renault landed themselves in trouble when Renault wanted to transfer production of the Clio to Turkey and the French Government made their feelings quite clear. Then they started slagging other low cost countries off. Now it appears Renault are at it again, only this time they may succeed.
Reuters reports that a French Industry Ministry spokesperson says that Renault will produce their new Trafic van in their woefully underutilized Sandouville plant. This “announcement” came after French politicians called for Renault to do more to protect French jobs. And with impending austerity cuts looming and the French citizens not pleased about it, every jobs counts.
Naturally, Renault tried to smother this announcement by getting a spokesperson to declare that it was too early to reveal which model would be built at the Sandouville site. “It’s a vehicle that will come out in 2013 so we won’t announce it straight away. It won’t be in the coming months,” said the Renault spokesperson. Now why would Renault be so quick to try and smother this? Well, two reasons.
1. Brussels is not much pleased with the amount of state aid being thrown around and will be watching Renault with a very close eye. Especially if there are jobs for state aid trades – strictly against EU rules.
2. Moving production of the Trafic isn’t as easy as it sounds.
The Trafic is made in Luton, UK under a joint venture between Nissan (who builds the Primastar there) and Opel/Vauxhall (who builds the Vivaro there). Renault would have to discuss any transfer of production with them before anything can happen.
France’s Le Figaro says that Renault would be trying to convince Opel/Vauxhall Nissan to move production to Sandouville as well. Good luck with that. GM has enough troubles in Europe. Nissan will want to keep jobs in the UK. The low pound is helping them and they don’t want to annoy the UK government at a time when their government loans for the Leaf may be cut.
Could we have a nasty NUMMI-type divorce in Europe? That’s an issue with a consolidated industry. Not only do you share costs, you share problems, too.