While France’s new leftist government mulls a new “drive French” plan and makes threatening gestures in the direction of French car makers that dare to do something about overcapacity, in an odd change of events it is a Japanese company that will prevent a much anticipated plant closure at PSA Peugeot Citroen.
Toyota sent out an innocuous looking press release today in which it announces that it will have PSA make a “medium-sized van based on the Peugeot “Expert” and the Citroën “Jumpy”. The agreement also includes the next generation of the vehicle, for which TME will cover an appropriate share of development and equipment investment costs.”
As Reuters correctly points out, that van will be built at PSA’s Sevelnord plant. This plant had been under the threat of closure for a while, and the deal with Toyota provided it with a new lease on life. Rumors of this to happen had been around since April, now they are confirmed.
Whether this will be a long term relationship is up to the unions, Reuters says. According to the report, those future van models will only be jointly developed and assembled at Sevelnord “if the plant’s unions agree to productivity improvements.” Spanish unions pray their comrades in France will not cave in. Says Reuters: “Without the concessions, the next generation of midsize vans would be moved to Peugeot’s factory in Vigo, north-west Spain.”
It also is an odd twist of events that GM’s arch enemy Toyota rides to the rescue of GM’s partner PSA.