The French finance minister Bruno Le Maire was speaking in the context of the French state potentially loaning the automaker 5 billion euros to help it withstand the pandemic. Plenty of French automakers have disappeared in the past, not the least of which being Panhard, which faded away in the 1960s, a sad end to a founding member of the auto industry as a whole.
Does Le Maire actually think Renault will disappear? It doesn’t seem so, though the mere acknowledgment that a company founded 121 years ago could fall victim to the pandemic is startling.
“Yes, Renault could disappear,” he told Europe 1 radio.
Le Maire said Renault’s French plant in Flins mustn’t close and the company should be able to keep as many jobs as possible in France, but also said it needed to adapt and be competitive.
Renault declined to comment on Le Maire’s remarks.
The Flins factory, northwest of Paris, is where Renault makes its electric Zoe models and the Micra car for Nissan. It employed around 2,640 people at the end of 2018, according to Renault’s website.
Le Maire wants various assurances from Renault in exchange for loaning all those billions, according to France 24, including a commitment to electric cars and an assurance that it will treat subcontractors fairly. Final approval for the loan is still up in the air, according to Autocar.
Le Maire’s comments come after reports earlier this week that factory closures could be coming.
From Automotive News:
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.
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.
Though saddest of all:
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.
I hereby request the French state kick in a little bit extra solely to save the new A110.