PARIS -- The coming Renault 5 small full-electric car will be built at the automaker’s factory in Douai, northern France, as Renault seeks to maintain production levels at a cluster of factories in the economically depressed region.
It represents something of a homecoming for the 5, as the original model was built at Douai from 1972 to 1984. The decision to build the EV in Douai is a boost for workers at the factory, which once built nearly 500,000 vehicles a year but in 2019 produced fewer than 100,000.
The retro-styled Renault 5 hatchback, ordered by new CEO Luca de Meo, will be the first vehicle on the CMF-B EV platform, which has been adapted from the architecture used for small cars in the Renault-Nissan Alliance.
It will be the second EV model assigned to the Douai factory, after the production version of the Megane eVision concept, a compact car that will enter production by the start of 2022. That model is on the larger CMF-EV platform.
Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard made the announcement this week that the R5, as it is known, will be built at Douai. He did not give any production targets.
“It’s a commitment,” he said Monday on the French news channel BFM-TV. “We intend to develop this ‘north pole’ (of factories), and it’s a question of making sure we fill these factories completely.”
Other factories involved in the effort are nearby Maubeuge, which builds commercial vans, and Ruitz, which builds transmissions for Renault’s E-Tech hybrid system.
Renault invested 1 billion euros in 2018 to prepare those sites and others in France to produce electric vehicles and components. Last year it hired Luciano Biondo, the director of Toyota’s Valenciennes factory in the region, to direct the three “north pole” factories.