Renault will convert its factory in Flins, France, into a facility for recycling, retrofitting and research, as the money-losing automaker moves to trim its global production by 20 percent.
The automaker said in a news release that it aims to employ 3,000 people at the revamped site by 2030, including staff from its nearby Choisy-le-Roi reconditioning facility, which has a workforce of 260 but is earmarked for closure.
The move comes despite union opposition and government pressure to keep manufacturing in France.
Renault executives are treading carefully in the automaker's home country due to pressure from President Emmanuel Macron to keep production and research in France in exchange for financial backing from the state to get through the coronavirus pandemic. Macron delayed a 5 billion-euro loan guarantee to the company earlier this year until it had agreed with unions about two northern factories.
The Flins factory outside of Paris opened in 1952. It currently builds the Zoe full-electric car and the Nissan Micra hatchback; both cars are assembled on the same production line and are based on a similar platform.
Renault will continue to build Zoe models at Flins until 2024 and will then consolidate EV output in France at its plant in Douai, where the electric Megane will be made. Zoe sales have surged this year under tougher emissions standards and enhanced government incentives for zero emissions vehicles.
Under a revised strategy for the Renault-Nissan alliance, Renault will take the lead in developing the next generation of Micra for Nissan, although there has been no announcement on a future production site.
Part of the production for the previous generation Renault Clio hatchback was at Flins, but the current Clio is now built entirely outside of France. Employees had feared that Flins would close completely under Renault's latest cost-cutting plan.
Unions said their proposals to keep on some car assembly activities in the longer run had been turned down.
"Flins should continue to produce new cars alongside other activities," CGT union representative Jean-Francois Pibouleau said on Wednesday.
The CFDT union is urging Renault to reconsider cutting jobs at Flins and shifting production to Douai. As many as three quarters of the EVs the automaker sells in its home country will be built elsewhere five years from now, according to the union.
"Renault cannot destroy production capacity in France while at the same time benefit from state support," it said in a statement. "We will not accept it."