The future of Renault is written in dotted lines. The automotive group, severely penalized by the coronavirus pandemic, is said to be considering a vast restructuring plan, including several plant closings and layoffs. For historian Matthieu Flonneau, the company now finds itself "at a crossroads". "Renault is out of industrial history, design and project. The merit of Jean-Dominque Senard (the current boss) is not necessarily in question, but the crisis that was there before the coronavirus is revealed today hui ", judged the automobile historian.
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The Flins factory, one of the most emblematic of Renault in France, could even be converted. "It is the symbol of the France of the 30 Glorious, of the Renault company which opened in 1952 a model factory (in Flins), with superb architecture. There is a desperation in Boulogne-Billancourt (the headquarters of Renault, in the Paris suburbs, editor's note ) which is old, but now there is even desperation in places where research and development of the brand is at stake ", deplored Matthieu Flonneau.
"Renault was a symbol of the left"
The historian recalled the major importance of Renault in the French industrial and economic landscape for decades, which have made it one of the most emblematic companies in the country. "Renault was the site of the progressive French social contract of the 30 Glorieuses. There were paid holidays granted by the workers' revolt in Billancourt, there was a shared social progress that the automobile could embody. Renault was a symbol rather on the left, in an automobile which was the symbol of nationalizations after 1945. But these political divisions have been redrawn with globalization ", noted Matthieu Flonneau.
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"Today, the ecological crisis is there and the place of the automobile is in question. Renault may be suffering more than others because the strategy has been blurred, unquestionably," said the historian. "This conversion (to the electric car) must be ecologically, but also economically and socially sustainable. This is the stake for Renault at the moment," concluded Matthieu Flonneau.