Thursday 26 August 2010

Renault workers to protest about importing Latitude sedan

Renault employees in France are looking to organise a demonstration against Renault’s imported new mid-sized Latitude sedan. The Latitude is manufactured in South Korea.

According to French media, the French GTC union is arranging to ‘bus in’ factory workers to the Paris motor show, where the Latitude will premier. Unions at PSA Peugeot-Citroën are believed to be anxious at more home-brand production being sourced abroad. Renault is also facing resistance from its own Government, which owns 15% of Renault, on introducing international built models.

The Latitude sedan underpins the Samsung SM5; itself based on the Laguna platform and will not be sold in the UK. Renault is eager to keep its footing in Europe’s D-Segment, predominantly because of slow sales of the current Laguna.

Reports quote French industry minister Christian Estrosi saying “he would be keeping a close watch” on the Latitude project because Renault promised the import volumes would remain “marginal”.

The French Government, which has two representatives on the Renault’s board, has a record of leaning on domestic manufacturers to encourage them to purchase more components locally and to guarantee domestic production.

Renault’s existence in the large car market within Europe has been dwindling for several years. The mature Espace MPV has been outsold by the younger Ford S-Max, the aging, upscale Vel Satis sedan is a virtual failure and Renault has roughly sold 90,000 Lagunas last year, half of the company’s projected sales plan.

Figures from JD Power propose that Renault currently holds 3.4% of the European large car market, down from 7.5% in 2003. Renault has still not declared its plans for replacing the Espace and Laguna, despite confirming the factory that makes them will gradually shift to van production.

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