MUNICH – Renault says it may reach a compromise in a dispute with the French government over plans to end production of the Clio in France.
French president Nicolas Sarkozy summoned Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn to a meeting on Saturday over concerns that the next Clio might be produced only in Turkey.
Sarkozy told parliamentarians that the state needed to defend factories and jobs but could not prevent a global company from having sites elsewhere.
"We are not putting a lot of money on the table to help our carmakers in order to see all factories go abroad," he said at an event at the Elysee palace.
Renault director Jerome Stoll told reporters on Thursday that a compromise was possible in the dispute.
"We are in the middle of a decision-making process which should allow us to reach a solution that everyone will find acceptable," Stoll said.
Industry Minister Christian Estrosi said the meeting on Saturday would aim to find a new way forward for the carmaker and the French government, which is a 15 percent shareholder in Renault, a former public company.
"I want to say very clearly that we would not be well disposed towards a decision to have the Clio 4 mainly produced in Turkey," Estrosi said after meeting Renault's chief operating officer, Patrick Pelata.
He said decisions will come from the meeting "that meet the choices that the president of the republic, as a shareholder of the Renault group, will impose upon them."
Estrosi said Pelata had pledged not to cut jobs at Flins, near Paris, where an older model of the Clio is produced.
The current model of the Clio is mostly produced in factories outside France, including Spain, Slovenia and Turkey.
The debate now underway between Renault and the government is over where the next generation of Clios will be built.
The state has long sought to influence Renault's strategy to preserve domestic jobs but in recent years Renault has moved production of many of its smaller models to countries where labor, taxes, and production costs are lower.
In February 2009, as a condition of a government aid package during the economic crisis, Renault pledged not to close factories in France for the duration of a 3 billion euro ($4.37 billion) low-interest loan.