Japanese Parts Paralysis Could Hit Renault, Supply Chain Chief Warns
Nobody who knows the business a little thinks the consequences the March 11 earthquake and tsunami will be isolated to Toyota and a little Honda. Renault is joined both at the top and at the hip with Nissan. Renault warned today that its French operation could be affected – albeit in a roundabout way.
“It is clear that if Nissan plants had to be shut down much longer in the near future than what they have already been, then it would have a certain impact on the Cleon plant but up until now, we have not seen any consequences,” Gerard Leclercq, Renault’s head of supply chain, told Reuters today.
Nissan’s plants in Japan are mostly open. Its damaged engine plant in Iwaki, Fukushima, will resume production next week. However, like all majors in Japan, Nissan will produce at 50 percent capacity only. According to Automotive News [sub], “Renault is facing unrelated supply chain problems linked to supplier capacity cuts made during the industry crisis, leading to a 12.4 percent dip in March sales.”
Renault’s Cleon plant near Rouen, France, is one of the group’s most important engine plants. Today, it saw the inauguration of a production line for a new 1.6 liter diesel engine. According to Reuters France, the plant exports 70 percent of its production to other Renault companies and to Nissan. Problems at Nissan could turn into a demand problem instead of a supply problem. However, Reuter points out that the factory “is also important for Japan’s electronic components, increasingly used in motor control.”
It's not just Renault which is affected in France either. I asked my local Peugeot dealer in Antwerp if they had any 508s available, and he told me that the production of at least the 2,0 litre turbodiesel was suspended due to a lack of Japanese components.