By Gilles Guillaume
PARIS (Reuters) – Renault will stop assembling new cars at its Flins factory outside Paris and turn the site into a research, recycling and repair centre by 2024 in a move set to save full-time jobs at the plant, the company said on Wednesday.
The loss-making carmaker said it aimed to employ 3,000 people at the revamped site by 2030, and billed the makeover as a way of saving a site that might otherwise be threatened as the group narrows its focus on profitable car models and cuts costs.
“The status quo was no longer possible, we had to be lucid about this,” Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard told an online news conference after meeting with unions at Flins, flanked by new Chief Executive Luca De Meo.
Renault, which had been struggling with waning profitability and sales before the coronavirus pandemic hit, has this year announced 4,600 job cuts in France as part of a 2 billion euro ($2.4 billion) cost savings plan.
Unions said their proposals to keep on some car assembly activities in the longer run had been turned down.
The company will continue to make its electric Zoe models at Flins until 2024, and will roll out its new activities in the meantime. These include refitting cars, such as those used for long-term leases, creating a group to work on electric battery innovations and recycling car parts.
Staff would be retrained, De Meo said, without giving details of the budget.
The 3,000 jobs will include staff from the nearby Choisy-le-Roi plant, which has a workforce of 260 but is earmarked for closure, while Flins currently employs 2,400 permanent workers.
But it also regularly works with many temporary staff, some 1,400, and it is unclear what would happen to these workers. De Meo said Flins could be opened up to other companies, which could create more jobs for the plant.
Renault said the plant would be equipped to turn out 130,000 refitted cars a year by 2030.
(Reporting by Gilles Guillaume and Sarah White; Editing by David Goodman and Mark Potter)