PARIS -- Renault will build a new niche car starting in 2010 at its factory in Novo Mesto, Slovenia, a company spokesman said.
The proposed vehicle will share a platform with the Twingo minicar, which has been built in Novo Mesto since 2007, Renault Chief Operating Officer Patrick Pelata told the Slovenian daily business newspaper Finance last week.
Pelata announced the new project after a meeting with Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor.
While Pelata provided few details on the new car, he said Renault's plan is to produce an "affordable and innovative" vehicle at the Slovenian site, which has been controlled by the French carmaker since 1992.
Renault will position its new vehicle as "a niche car," Pelata said, adding that "it is not a derivative from the Twingo. It is another car."
Pelata's use of the term "niche car" echos comments from Yves-Eric Morel, Renault's director of the small car program, who told Automotive News Europe in April that the French carmaker plans to sell a small convertible based on the Twingo platform beginning in 2010.
Morel also described the proposed convertible as a "niche car," and suggested it would be priced well below competing small convertibles.
A Renault spokesman neither confirmed nor denied that the small Twingo-based convertible will be built in Slovenia.
Labor costs in Novo Mesto are below those at Renault factories in France or Spain. That give the plant a competitive advantage for building low-margin small cars for export to Europe.
In 2008, the factory produced 132,416 Twingos and 65,427 small Clios.
News that Renault plans to build a new small vehicle in Slovenia could anger French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Sarkozy offered Renault a 3 billion euro low-interest loan in early 2009, conditioned on a pledge to maintain production and employment in France.