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Renault could “disappear” without aid, warns French minister

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99-renault-megane-refresh-2020-hero-fron Finance minister warns brand could go out of business without help, following reports of factory closures and culling of model lineup

Renault could be forced out of business if it does not receive help from outside sources, warns France’s finance minister.

In a Europe 1 radio interview earlier today, Bruno Le Maire warned that the brand “could disappear”, and repeated calls the French Prime Minister made earlier this week for the Renault plant in Flins, outside Paris, to remain open. 

The comments are in response to French media reports earlier this week claiming a number of Renault factories could be closed, and core models axed, as part of a cost-cutting plan to save €2 billion (£1.8 billion). 

The European Union has granted approval for Renault to receive a €5bn loan backed by the French government to help it cope with a slump in demand and reduced liquidity due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, Le Maire admitted in a separate interview with newspaper Le Figaro that it had not yet been signed off and discussions were still under way.  

First revealed by weekly newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné, the reports suggest the Dieppe facility, which produces the Alpine A110 sports car, is in the firing line, along with the Choisy-le-Roi spare parts plant on the outskirts of Paris and the Fonderie de Bretagne engine-and-gearbox plant near Lorient.

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A further facility (Flins, in the town of Yvelines, outside Paris) won't close directly but won't produce models beyond the current lifecycle, it's said. The facility currently makes the Nissan Micra under the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, but this supermini has struggled for sales in the face of newer rivals and the electric Renault Zoe

The Dieppe plant was overhauled in a €36 million investment in 2017 to produce the A110, alongside the previous-generation Clio in Renaultsport form. The specialist facility employs 150 people. Demand for the A110 fell substantially in the first quarter of 2020, with just 61 examples registered across Europe in February. Its future is uncertain as a result. 

The factory closures are just the start, however. The newspaper also reckons five models won't live beyond their current lifecycle: The Mégane hatchback, Koleos SUV and Talisman saloon could join the previously reported Espace and Scénic MPVs for the chop. 

Only last week, the Financial Times claimed that Nissan is in discussion with Renault to build the Captur and next-generation Kadjar at its plant in Sunderland, England. 

Renault UK refused to comment when approached by Autocar.

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