“It’s the end of an era” and a “second youth”

A large building freshly painted. On the pristine white wall, the black and green “ReFactory” logo combines, in one striking symbol, the colors of mourning and hope. We are at the Renault factory in Flins (Yvelines), Tuesday, November 30, where the Renault group has invited around a hundred journalists to attend the inauguration of the new used vehicle reconditioning activity which foreshadows the future of the historical site.

The event marks the beginning of a new life for this high place of French industrial history. Founded in 1952, the factory gave birth by millions to the popular icons of the former Régie Renault: the Dauphine, the 4L, the R16, the R5… It now manufactures the Zoé, the electric bestseller of the Losange as well as the Micra for its Japanese ally Nissan. 129,000 vehicles left its hangars last year.

Huge luminous picture

Those days are over. Renault executives – Jean-Dominique Senard, its chairman, and Luca de Meo, the managing director – have decided in 2020: Flins will no longer assemble cars at the end of Zoé and Micra’s life, at the latest in 2024. But Flins will not go away. The factory will be transformed into a ReFactory, “The largest circular economy factory in Europe dedicated to mobility”, according to Mr. Senard. It combines repair and reuse of batteries, recycling of spare parts, training and it is this second-hand vehicle (used vehicle) activity that is the subject of today’s inauguration.

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Inside the 11,000 m2 of the “Factory VO”, here is the future of Flins. Here, there is no assembly line that moves forward continuously with its swarm of operators, but a sort of huge garage, clean as a new penny, where second-hand Renault and Dacia cars are lined up, sent by dealers from the Renault network and which are refurbished.

“Bodybuilders, for example, are proud to bring a vehicle from start to finish and even electronically sign their work” Jean-Philippe Billai, plant manager

“We still find traces of our industrial jobs”, Eric Ametller notes, pointing to the huge light board which indicates the progress of the work of each operator. This former stamping worker volunteered for the ReFactory at the age of 56, including twenty-nine years in Flins. “We apply the methods of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance factories, confirms M. de Meo. And production is ramping up. By the end of the year, 700 Flins employees will have joined the ReFactory. In 2023, we will be able to recondition 180 vehicles per day, or 45,000 per year. ”

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