Renault mulls factory closures after poor sales

City A.M. Reporter
FRENCH car maker Renault is considering the complete closure of factories because of the dire state of the European automobile market, the company’s chief operating officer warned 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 car makers, 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 last week’s Paris auto show. Tavares said Renault’s cooperation with Nissan had given the firm hard data on productivity levels at Nissan factories in Britain and Spain.

“These factories are really top,” he said, adding that talks were under way on whether Nissan could make production capacity available to Renault. “That is one possibility,” A Renault spokeswoman declined to comment.