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Fri, Jan 15, 2010 - Page 10 News List

French auto giant reports 3.1 percent drop in sales

AFP , BOULOGNE-BILLANCOURT, France

French car maker Renault yesterday reported its sales dropped 3.1 percent to 2.3 million vehicles last year as the global auto market slumped in the economic crisis.

Renault also said, however, that its market share had grown from 3.6 percent to 3.7 percent even as the world market shrank 4.7 percent.

Renault said it would try to gain more market share this year but warned the European market could shrink again between 8 percent and 10 percent this year.

Renault is planning to shut down production of its Clio model in Spain and Slovenia but the car will still be made in France, a company executive said on Wednesday.

“We plan to stop production of the Clio in Spain and Slovenia,” Patrick Pelata, Renault’s chief operating officer, told reporters after a meeting with French Industry Minister Christian Estrosi.

PRESSURE

Renault has come under heavy pressure from the French government to keep jobs at home following press reports about a planned shift of Clio production from France to Turkey.

Pelata said no decision has been made on beefing up Renault’s assembly lines in Turkey.

“No decision has been taken because it is not yet time to make decisions,” he said. “In any case, the Clio will be produced in Flins [near Paris], regardless of what happens and that is very clear.”

Government measures taken last year to support the auto sector in the economic downturn included generous loans to car makers on condition that they keep production and jobs in France.

“We’re not giving all that money to support the auto sector so that all our factories can leave to go abroad,” French President Nicolas Sarkozy told members of parliament at an Elysee meeting on Wednesday.

GLOBAL

“I strongly contest the idea that these big companies, just because they are global, no longer have a nationality,” he said.

Government spokesman Luc Chatel said Sarkozy would meet Renault chief executive Carlos Ghosn “very soon” on the Turkey issue.

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