Renault-Nissan raises investment in France with new vans

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Renault stated it will build new Nissan and Mitsubishi vans at its local plants, boosting investment in the country as it looks for closer integration of the three-way automaking alliance with government support.

The declaration, timed to coincide with a plant visit by President Emmanuel Macron, “underlines the importance of France for the alliance”, Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi stated on Thursday.

Renault is going to construct a new Nissan NV250 delivery van at the northern Maubeuge factory, on an base shared with its own Kangoo model that consists an electric version, the alliance stated.

A larger Mitsubishi van will also be manufactured in Sandouville, western France, along with Renault’s Trafic. The move raises Renault’s declared investment in France this year to 1.4 billion euros ($1.6 billion), the companies stated.

Under pressure from the French government, the automaker’s biggest shareholder, Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn agreed this year to look for closer tie-up with Nissan in what is likely to be his last four-year stint as chief executive.

Renault presently owns 43.4 percent of Nissan, which in turn controls a non-voting 15 percent stake in its French parent and 34 percent of Mitsubishi Motors.

Ghosn has earlier stated a full merger is possible only if France gives up its 15 percent Renault holding – a step the government has been disinclined to entertain without clearer protections on French jobs and other industrial interests.

The investment will ultimately increase Renault’s sales to partners – one measure of its financial advantage from the alliance – which dropped by 358 million euros in the last quarter, partly reflecting Europe’s diesel sales decrease.

France was selected for the vans investment because “the Maubeuge and Sandouville factories offered the most attractive solution, thanks to their competitiveness”, Ghosn stated.

“Within the alliance, Renault Group’s global expertise in light commercial vehicles creates synergies that benefit all of our customers,” he added.

The new Mitsubishi van is going to be exported from Sandouville to Australia and New Zealand, under the strategies announced on Thursday.

The new Kangoo and Nissan NV250 will generate 200 new jobs and 400 million euros of extra investment to Maubeuge, along with 50 million earlier announced for the electric version.

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