Renault is opening a “used parts factory” in France where its trucks will be broken down and their major parts harvested for use in trucks that are still running. The facility will have a reverse assembly line that’s supposed to extend the lifetime of the heavy duty vehicles Renault Trucks sells in Europe.
Or at least, extend the usable lifetime of certain parts found in trucks that’ve reached their end-of-life. Renault says its trucks are designed to last for over 1 million miles. While not all of these vehicles will live to see that magic millionth mile roll over on the odometer, that doesn’t mean the trucks are done.
Renault Trucks will bring these end-of-life vehicles to the new Disassembly Plant, also known as the Used Parts Factory. The roughly 32,300-square foot plant will be located in Lyon, France, as close as possible to Renault’s logistics center.
Once older, high-mileage trucks are dismantled at the facility, their reusable parts will be refurbished and whatever is left will be recycled. The major parts that the reverse assembly line workers will pull from the trucks include the engine, gearbox, cabin, fuel tank, bumpers and wind deflectors.
Renault claims many other parts will still be used at its own facilities, besides also going to third-party recyclers. For example, truck rails will be cut up and sent to a nearby foundry where the metal that’s extracted in the process will be used to make new vehicles.
The major components mentioned above will be reused in trucks that are not yet at the end-of-life stage. But first, they’ll be checked, cleaned and labelled to make tracing them easier. Renault calls it a circular economy, and it’s not a bad way to make the best use of the company’s production capacity. A sort of “re-production” but without the tawdry undertone.
Ostensibly, Renault claims this is all part of an initiative towards becoming carbon neutral, and the disassembly plant was even backed by a feasibility study conducted by French auto recycling company Indra and by ADEME, or the French Environment and Energy Management Agency. But it’s not like Renault is doing this entirely out of the goodness of their hearts.
The company says this will help address the shortage of vehicle parts and raw materials from the last few years. Parts pulled from the aging trucks will go to Renault Truck dealers, and be sold under the label “Used Parts by Renault Trucks.” The like-new parts will come with a warranty and cost 50-60 percent less than brand new parts. So, even if the disassembly plant is ultimately about making Renault Trucks more money, it still looks like a win-win scenario.