Alpine in danger, Renault to close four factories - report

Four factories, including the sole production sites for the Zoe and Alpine A110, could be shuttered as part of Renault's "no taboos" restructuring plan.

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Derek Fung
Derek Fung

Renault is reportedly looking to slash costs by €2 billion ($3.3 billion) by 2022 to counteract a €141 million ($235 million) loss last year, and a rapid slowdown in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This could see up to four factories and the enthusiast-pleasing Alpine brand shuttered.

According to a report in business newspaper Les Echos two car-producing facilities are said to be on the chopping block: Flins, which is about 40km outside of Paris, and Dieppe on the English Channel coast.

Flins was recently upgraded to a capacity of 180,000 cars per annum, and currently makes the Zoe electric hatch and the European-market Nissan Micra.

The factory’s output dropped dramatically when the company decided to move all Clio production to Slovenia and Turkey.

Flins will likely be closed when the current Zoe reaches the end of its product cycle in 2022. If the report is true, it will mean the end of a factory which opened back in 1952 and has produced over 18 million vehicles.

Dieppe, on the hand, is a much smaller facility and is the sole production site of the Alpine A110 sports car.

Given small market for the Porsche 718 Cayman rival, the factory only employs around 400 people and is said to be one of the smallest facilities operated by the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.

It’s unclear if production of the A110 would shift to another plant, or whether this means the end of the reborn Alpine brand. Production of the mid-engine A110 began in 2017.

Also destined for a date with guillotine are a parts reconditioning centre in Choisy-le-Roi, and a casting foundry in Morbihan.

These planned changes to Renault’s manufacturing footprint are part of a “no taboos” restructuring drive led by interim CEO and full-time chief financial officer, Clothilde Delbos.

The automaker is also reportedly considering axing a number of model lines, including the Scenic and Espace people movers, Koleos crossover and Talisman range-topping sedan.

Full details will be announced on May 28, the same day partner Nissan unveils its own turnaround plans.

It’s possible the French government, as 15 per cent shareholder and key backer, could stop some of these planned closures.

According to Reuters, Edouard Philippe, France’s PM, responded to the Les Echos report with a statement to the Senate highlighting the government’s concern about the future of the Flins factory.

The French government recently guaranteed a €5 billion ($8.3 billion) loan taken out by Renault to help it ride out the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

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Derek Fung
Derek Fung
Derek Fung is a Journalist at CarExpert.
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