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Renault to switch French auto assembly plant to recycling

Renault will stop assembling new cars at its Flins factory located outside Paris and turn the site into a research, recycling, and repair center by 2024 in a move set to save full-time jobs at the plant, the automaker said on Wednesday.

The automaker said it intended to hire 3,000 people at the revamped site by 2030, and billed the makeover as a way of saving a site that might otherwise be threatened as the automaker narrows its focus on profitable car models and slashes costs.

“The status quo was no longer possible, we had to be lucid about this,” Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard informed an online news conference following the meeting with unions at Flins, flanked by new Chief Executive Luca De Meo.

Renault, which had been having a hard time with waning profitability and sales before the coronavirus hit, has this year announced 4,600 job cuts in France as part of a 2 billion euro ($2.4 billion) cost savings strategy.

Unions said their proposals to keep on some auto assembly activities, in the long run, had been declined.

The company will keep making its electric Zoe models at Flins until 2024 and will present its new activities in the meantime. These include refitting cars, such as those used for long-term leases, forming a group to work on electric battery innovations, and recycling auto parts.

Staff would be retrained, De Meo said, without providing information on the budget.

The 3,000 jobs will consist of staff from the nearby Choisy-le-Roi plant, which has a workforce of 260 but is earmarked for closure, while Flins presently employs 2,400 permanent employees.

But it also regularly works with many of the temporary staff members, some 1,400, and it is not clear what would happen to these workers. De Meo said Flins could be opened up to other companies, which could bring more jobs for the plant.

The automaker said the plant would be geared up to turn out 130,000 refitted cars a year by 2030.

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