PARIS -- Renault announced Friday that it has indefinitely postponed plans to manufacture cars in India.
The French carmaker has "frozen" a project to build cars at a joint venture factory under construction near Chennai, the southeastern India, with Japanese alliance partner Nissan, Renault Executive Vice President of Sales Patrick Blain said.
Renault "no longer has a date" for launching production in Chennai, Blain told reporters during presentation of annual sales data for 2008.
The 780 million euro Chennai factory was scheduled to begin production of both Renault and Nissan vehicles in May 2010, with a gradual ramping up to 400,000 cars a year by 2015.
Renault's decision to back away from the Chennai factory reverses statements from top executives made in late 2008.
Michel Gornet, Renault's head of manufacturing, told Automotive News Europe last November that the French carmaker was scaling back plans for the Chennai plant, but still planned to build Renault-badged cars there.
At the time, Gornet said Nissan and Renault would share a single assembly line, rather than the two lines initially forecast for the factory.
Nissan is set to transfer production of its Micra minicar from Sunderland, England, to the new plant. The Japanese carmaker will also build a car-derived van there. Both vehicles will be exported to global markets.
Renault did not say which cars it planned to build in Chennai, but speculation has long revolved on the development of new vehicles for the local market, based on the low-cost Logan platform.
Blain's announcement of the postponement of the India plans comes against a backdrop of declining car sales and a bleak outlook for 2009.
Renault's global sales fell by 4.2 percent in 2008 to 2.38 million compared with 2007. The automaker declined to make a prediction on its 2009 unit-sales volume.
Email Lawrence J. Speer at [email protected]