In late 2016, Renault’s Le Mans plant will begin making chassis components for the next-generation Nissan Micra.
This programme will increase the plant’s workload by about eight per cent and draw an investment budget totalling €7 million.
The Le Mans plant will meet all the Nissan Micra chassis needs for the Renault Flins plant (near Paris), which is set to manufacture the new Micra from 2016 onwards, with an expected output of 132,000 vehicles per year.
Thus Renault will be building the whole chassis for Micra in France, and assembling the car in France as well at Flins.
Nissan's decision to have the new Micra chassis made at Renault's Le Mans plant follows the competitive performance agreement of 13 March 2013, which enabled the Renault Le Mans plant to successfully challenge rival production facilities as regards fulfilment of Nissan's performance demands.
Eighteen months after Renault and its trade unions signed the competitive performance agreement, the company can be seen to be forging ahead and meeting its commitments, including that of "maintaining or developing business at its French manufacturing sites".
Production of chassis components for the new Micra will boost the workload by around 8 per cent in a full-year for Renault's Le Mans plant.
Volume production is scheduled to start in late 2016, with production output, estimated at 132,000 vehicles in a full-year going to the Renault Flins assembly plant.
The programme draws a site investment of €7 million, most of which will be spent on new machinery that will go a long way to securing sustained plant business in the future.
In announcing phase two of Renault's “Drive the Change” in February 2014, Carlos Ghosn, president of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, emphasized the need for both partner companies to improve the performance, with one of the ways being to develop cross-manufacturing, with one partner making vehicles or powertrains for the other.
Months after the announcement, the Alliance’s synergies programme appears to be gathering momentum; the Micra chassis programme for Le Mans marks a major step forward in Alliance cross-manufacturing.
The Le Mans plant dates back to 1920, and has the longest history of any of the Renault group's production facilities today. Le Mans is the Renault group's primary chassis design and manufacturing centre. It claims to host “unparalleled engineering and production know-how” in this speciality. This plant is also the leading industrial employer in its region.
As well as being used on Renault-badged vehicles, the chassis assemblies made at the Le Mans plant also appear on European-made Dacia and Nissan vehicles.
The plant's 2,200-strong workforce endeavours not only to meet the most demanding requirements on quality, delivery times, cost and safety, but to toughen them up.
The Le Mans centre is currently involved in practically all of the Renault group's forthcoming product projects, and makes chassis components for Clio 4, Captur and New Trafic, plus Lodgy, Sandero and Duster for Dacia, and Qashqai and Note for Nissan. If there is a strike at the plant it could impact on the production of vehicles of both companies.
It makes all the chassis parts for ZOE (rear axle, rotating front-end, subframe, bottom arm), plus the battery support and engine cradle.
Parts made at Le Mans are dispatched to Renault group assembly plants not only in France and other European countries, but also farther afield to Turkey, Morocco and Brazil.
The plant exports 55 per cent of production output outside France and 25 per cent outside Europe.
In 2013, the plant made: 684,000 front axle assemblies; 853,000 rear axle assemblies; 7,700,000 rotors; 705,000 sub-frames and 2,561,000 bottom arms.
The 2013 workforce amounted to a six per cent increase of that of 2012.
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