Renault To Build Part Of New Car In France

Chief of automaker Renault said its new generation Clio will be built in both France and Turkey, but its site outside Paris is to become the European platform for its electric car.

PARIS (AP) -- The chief of automaker Renault advised President Nicolas Sarkozy on Saturday that its popular new generation Clio will be built in both France and Turkey, but that its site outside Paris is to become the European platform for its electric car.

Sarkozy voiced concern Wednesday that Renault was considering deserting France for Turkey to produce the Clio 4, to be launched in 2013, and summoned Renault president Carlos Ghosn to a weekend meeting.

The French president complained about infusions of state funds to carmakers who then produce abroad, saying large companies like to think they "no longer have a nationality."

The French state has a 15 percent stake in Renault.

Sarkozy's office said that Ghosn assured the president during the meeting that production of the current Clio 3 model will continue at Flins, outside Paris, along with "part of the production of the Clio 4." He said the electric car, Zoe, would begin production there in 2012.

"Renault is a French company, a socially responsible citizen .... This is one reason why we decided to produce (the electric car) in the Flins plant," Ghosn was quoted as saying in a statement from Renault. However, he added there would be "double sourcing in Bursa, Turkey" for production of the Clio 4. Renault has a plant in Bursa. Renault has said that the cost of making a car in Turkey is euro1,400 ($2,000) cheaper than France.

"The future of the Flins plant is guaranteed," Ghosn said in the statement.

Employees at the huge Flins plant east of Paris have spoken bitterly about the future of Flins should Renault produce the Clio 4 in Turkey. The issue takes on special importance ahead of March regional elections, which have become the focal point for all politicians, Sarkozy included.

Sarkozy's statement said that Renault intends to make the Flins site a "huge European platform for the electric vehicle." That corresponds with France's plan to provide loan support for production of electric cars, and the presidential statement said that Sarkozy "fully supports" Renault's strategy in this regard.

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