DETROIT -- Renault SA plans to cut the number of dealer groups in its European network by 50%, published reports say. The move is the latest in Renault’s E3 billion ($2.65 billion) restructuring plan, designed to help Renault improve its profitability in 2002 and beyond.

Renault will cut the number of its dealer groups from 1,900 to 800 by 2004 as part of the plan, which aims to cut inventory and generate increased savings in distribution and logistic costs. The measures are expected to help Renault meet its E1 billion ($885 million) cost reduction targets for 2001-2004.

Renault also plans to cut its product development lead time from 36 mos. to 28 months by 2004. The reduction in lead time is to come via Renault’s decision to adopt vehicle development programs used by its alliance partner, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.