Autocar reports that Renault workers in France are jumping on a bus and heading to the Paris Motor Show. Are the doing it because they fancy a day out? Maybe they want to see all the nice cars on display? Nope, they’re going there to protest. OK, so who do you think they are going to protest? Hyundai? Toyota? Ford? Nope. They’re protesting against Renault. So, a bunch of French Renault workers are going to the Paris Motor Show to protest against their own company? Why?
The new Renault Latitude is ruffling a few French feathers. You see, the Renault Laguna, which is built in Sandouville, France, isn’t selling very well (and the Vel Satis has been canceled), but Renault have stated their intent to stay in the mid-large saloon market. Hence the Latitude was born….in South Korea. As the Samsung SM5 [Ed: which was once considered as an Aura replacement for Penske's Saturn rescue attempt]. Needless to say, the workers don’t like that, so in the finest French tradition, they’re protesting it. And they’re not alone.
The French government, which owns 15 percent of Renault, are just as unhappy about Renault sourcing from abroad. Renault and the French government have had previous run-ins about production coming from abroad. Christian Estrosi was quoted as saying “he would be keeping a close watch” on the Latitude. Renault aren’t the only ones having union troubles. The same thing is happening at Peugeot-Citroen, where unions are concerned at PSA’s growing interest in importing products from abroad.
All of which is a bit like the UAW protesting Korean-built and developed Chevy Aveos… mixed with a little British Leyland-era union-government dysfunction. It almost makes America’s experiment with government-owned automakers look downright rosy.