Renault considers shutting factories

Renault is considering the complete closure of its factories because of the dire state of the European car market, the company’s chief operating officer said yesterday.

“We will see. We are currently talking to the unions and explaining to them how big the gaps are in our competitiveness,” Carlos Tavares told German trade newspaper Automobilwoche.

“We have a competitiveness problem in western Europe and France.”

The European market’s prolonged decline is even starting to make previously impervious carmakers, such as Volkswagen, feel vulnerable.

“We’re bracing for more negative surprises in 2013, perhaps also in 2014,” Christian Klingler, VW’s sales chief, said at the Paris auto show last week.

Meanwhile, in yesterday’s interview, Mr Tavares pointed out that Renault’s co-operation with Nissan had given the company “hard data” on productivity levels at Nissan factories in Sunderland in Britain and Barcelona in Spain.

“These factories are really top,” Mr Tavares said, adding that discussions were under way on whether Nissan could make production capacity available to Renault.

Meanwhile, a Renault spokeswoman declined to comment on the report, but chief executive Carlos Ghosn said on Friday that the French carmaker could disappear “in its current form” if it is unable to be competitive in its home market.

However, Mr Ghosn also said that Renault had no plans at this stage to cut jobs in France.

— Reuters

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