The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance has experienced difficulties for the last two years, resulting in the group rethinking its plans for the future, early reports indicating Nissan and Renault are looking at tough times ahead.
Nissan may cut as many as 20,000 jobs around the globe as part of its individual restructuring plans, which will be revealed May 28. Many of those are expected to be in Europe, which could have a devastating effect on its French partner Renault.
In fact, one high-ranking French government official – France holds an ownership stake in the automaker – warned that Renault could disappear entirely if the company didn’t get some assistance to shore up its balance sheet.
Bruno Le Maire, France’s finance minister, is pondering approval of a 5 billion euro, or $5.5 billion, loan for Renault to help it ride out the crisis. He was very direct on what could happen to Renault if it cannot get the funding it needs.
“Yes, Renault could disappear,” he told Europe 1 radio.
Le Maire noted that Renault suffers from the same problem that plagues many automakers: inefficiency, pointing to the company’s plant in Flins, France, which is northwest of Paris. He said it’s important for it to remain open and preserve French jobs, but the company needs to find a way to use the facility, whose 2,640 employees build the Zoe EV and Nissan Micra, in more competitive manner.
Renault declined to comment on Le Maire’s remarks.
Meanwhile, Nissan’s been rumored to look to cut its annual production to about 5 million vehicles, which is 1.5 million less than it currently produces globally. Almost a year ago, the company said it could cut more than 12,000 jobs as it looked to find ways to cut its bloated costs.
Rumor has it officials are looking to make a move to cut $2.8 billion in fixed costs. The areas set to see big cuts, according to Bloomberg News, includes marketing and research. However, nothing has been finalized yet as the company’s board has not given final approval to the plan, Bloomberg reported. Publicly, officials have been mum on what’s in the plan.
In addition to cutting back the marketing budget, the company is expected to mothball its low-cost Datsun line, which was reintroduced several years ago. The brand produced inexpensive, no-frills vehicles for markets like India and Russia, where vehicles like that are popular.
In the span of less than 12 months, the company’s sales have worsened, hastening the need for a larger number of cuts. The company is rumored to be pondering shutting down three or four plants globally, including at least one in Europe.
Renault and Nissan formed the alliance two decades ago as a way to prop each other up. Mitsubishi, which was on the brink of failure, was added to the alliance in 2016 by then-Chairman Carlos Ghosn. However, the partnership is struggling, through no fault of Mitsubishi, in the wake of Ghosn’s 2018 arrest on charges of financial malfeasance.
Ghosn has proclaimed his innocence since his arrest, been critical of Japanese prosecutors, then fled the country in a music case for his ancestral homeland of Lebanon to avoid prosecution. The Japanese government has been pushing Lebanon to extradite Ghosn, but thus far has resisted the calls for him to be returned.
The two companies have struggling since then and those struggles have exacerbated by the global coronavirus pandemic, which has crushed new vehicle sales and caused the companies to look long and hard at changes that could be implemented.