Special Coverage

Geneva
Auto Show

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia – Renault SA’s Wind 2-seat roadster, to be shown at next month’s Geneva auto show, will be built solely at the auto maker’s Revoz d.d. plant in Novo Mesto, near here, and will share an assembly line with the Twingo and Clio II.

The Wind is based on the Twingo platform.

“We will launch production of the new model in the first half of this year,” Revoz Chairman Ales Bratoz tells Ward’s.

A total of €47.5 million ($66.3 million) is being invested to adapt the plant for the Renault Wind, including E14.3 million ($20 million) in state aid provided by the Slovenian government.

“We have installed some new production equipment, because all the body parts in the car’s substructure, such as the body sides (and) roof, are new,” Bratoz says.

The Slovenian content of the Twingo, which also is solely made at Revoz, is about 32%. “In the case of the Wind, it will be a bit lower because of (certain) features of the vehicle,” he says.

Revoz employs about 2,600 people, plus some 400 contract workers. It created 50 new jobs for the Wind.

Management had to cancel half its night shift between November 2008 and April 2009 due to the global economic crisis but profited later from European scrapping-bonus programs.

“Thanks to the incentives in different European countries, we were able to restart the full third shift (in April), meaning full capacity for our production,” Bratoz says.

Some Clio II builds had to be transferred to Renault's plant in Flins, France, for capacity reasons, enabling the Slovenian facility to build more Twingos.

Revoz produced a record 212,680 cars last year, up 7.4% from 2008. The plant broke its daily production record in December, with 916 units in a single day. Some 98% of output is exported to France, Germany, Italy and Belgium as the main markets.

Now that scrapping schemes in most countries have expired, Revoz may be forced to cut production again later this year.

“We can continue to work in three shifts for at least three months,” Bratoz says. “Later on, we shall see how demand develops and will adapt daily production levels accordingly.”

The Slovenian plant began cooperation with Renault in 1972, and the first Renault cars were produced 1973. Currently, Revoz is owned 100% by Renault.

Because of the long history of ties between the Slovenian operation and Renault, Bratoz is not concerned about French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s stand against production of French cars in other countries. “You cannot talk of re-localization in such a case,” he says.