PARIS - Renault will overhaul its product engineering organization of 4,400 workers in an effort to lower costs and speed up vehicle development.
The changes are the latest in a company restructuring led by Carlos Ghosn, executive vice president. An announcement is expected before summer.
Sources say the reorganization is inspired by Chrysler Corp.'s dedicated platform team concept. Product 'range managers' will be appointed.
The range managers will report directly to Ghosn, who is in charge of engineering, manufacturing and purchasing.
Ghosn has led a restructuring of the company since he was hired from Michelin in late 1996. Last year, he persuaded Chairman Louis Schweitzer to close Renault's plant in Belgium. That led to reorganization of the production at Renault's six main assembly plants. Ghosn has also implemented an aggressive cost reduction strategy with suppliers.
Now Ghosn is preparing to shake up engineering.
Various insiders say the reorganization is based on Chrysler's concept of complete teams dedicated to a platform or a range of vehicles.
It will include the creation of range managers for minis, superminis, lower-medium, upper-medium and larger cars.
Teams could include product, manufacturing and tooling engineers, purchasing executives and quality experts.
'The new organization is not finalized,' said an insider. 'The main question is how far the integration will go inside the teams. Will they include engineering and manufacturing personnel only or go further?'
Ghosn also must decide how much authority the range managers will have and how existing project managers - who also report to him - will fit in the system.
'To have an integrated range organization is positive in the short term,' said a Renault project manager. 'But in the long term, there is a risk of weakening the technical skills and specialties.'