Renault to switch French car assembly plant to recycling

By Gilles Guillaume
PARIS (Reuters) - Renault will stop assembling new cars at its Flins plant outside Paris and turn the site into a research, recycling and repair center by 2024 to save full-time jobs at the plant, the company said on Wednesday.
The loss-making automaker said it plans to employ 3,000 people at the remodeled site by 2030 and charge for the remodeling to save a site that could otherwise be threatened as the group narrowed its focus on profitable car models and cut costs.
"The status quo was no longer possible, we had to be clear about it," said Jean-Dominique Senard, chairman of Renault, at an online press conference after a meeting with unions in Flins, accompanied by the new chairman of the board, Luca De Meo.
Renault, which was struggling with declining profitability and sales prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, announced it would cut 4,600 jobs in France this year as part of a € 2 billion ($ 2.4 billion) cost-saving plan.
The unions said their proposals to continue some vehicle assembly activities in the longer term had been rejected.
The company will continue to manufacture its Zoe electric models in Flins until 2024, and will launch its new activities in the meantime. This includes retrofitting cars such as those used for long-term leases, creating a group that will work on innovations for electric batteries and recycle auto parts.
The staff will be retrained, said De Meo, without giving any information on the budget.
The 3,000 jobs include employees at the nearby Choisy-le-Roi plant, which employs 260 people but is slated to close, while Flins currently has 2,400 permanent employees.
However, it also works regularly with a large number of temporary workers, around 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 will be equipped to produce 130,000 refurbished cars annually by 2030.
(Reporting by Gilles Guillaume and Sarah White; Editing by David Goodman and Mark Potter)
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