The weak European economy has prompted many Europe-based carmakers to re-consider their business strategy in the face of what could be a prolonged down market. Fiat is looking at an export-focused strategy to keep factories humming on the continent on lower European demand. Renault is reportedly looking at closing plants in France and western Europe due to low demand for new cars, as well as the plants' poor productivity and high costs.
Renault CEO Carlos Tavares said the company is considering shutting one or more of its plants in France and western Europe entirely, according to a Reuters report, quoting German trade publication Automobilwoche. The company is in talks with labor unions about improving productivity and closing the competitiveness gaps. Because of Renault's close relationship with Nissan, one of the possible scenarios is adding production capacity at the Nissan plants in Sunderland, England and Barcelona, Spain, both of which Tavares called "really top" in terms of output and productivity. The Sunderland plant produces the popular Nissan Qashqai crossover, similar to the U.S.-market Rogue, and Barcelona builds the Nissan NV200 urban utility van.
Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn reportedly said Renault could disappear in its current form if it could not become more competitive in France and Europe, but denied that drastic job cuts in France were imminent.