In the automotive sector, the coronavirus crisis was taken very seriously from the start. "This is a real subject, which we are following with the greatest attention, already explained Clotilde Delbos", the general manager of Renault, during the presentation of the financial results on February 14. At the time, one of the group's factories had been closed for three days in Busan, South Korea. Fortunately for the French manufacturer, it reopened the next day.
However, three other Chinese factories remained stationary. “These are joint ventures with the local manufacturer, Dongfeng, and not Renault properties, do we try to put management into perspective. In Wuhan, home of the epidemic, as well as in Shiyan and Shenyang. Nevertheless, the crisis unit, created in early January at the headquarters of Boulogne-Billancourt (Hauts-de-Seine), continues to work 24 hours a day on all short-term contingencies.
This epidemic, however, will not fix Renault's business in China. The diamond brand sold in 2019 just under 180,000 cars. A decrease of 17% compared to the previous year. The only factory in Wuhan has seen its production collapse, to less than 20,000 units, while it would be able to get out of more than 150,000.
" Supply disruption "
The consequences of the coronavirus for the other French manufacturer, PSA, are less dramatic. Even if the three factories in Wuhan have been shutdown since January. "For once, our poor performance achieved there saves us," quips a group executive. What about an impact on production in France? “We have set up very flexible production lines in Trémery, Rennes, Poissy, Sochaux or Mulhouse,” explains one at the Rueil-Malmaison headquarters (Hauts-de-Seine). We can go almost instantly from manufacturing a thermal, diesel or petrol vehicle to electric or hybrid. This gives us flexibility in the event of a supply shortage of a particular part. "
Equipment manufacturers are also affected. Starting with Valeo, which has 34 factories in China, as well as a network of 800 suppliers. "They have restarted," said a spokesperson. With the exception of the two in Wuhan. Another important point for the French group: 95% of its production carried out in China is destined for the Chinese market. “Unless there is a global pandemic, the current coronavirus crisis has very little chance of impacting our activities beyond China's borders. "
There remains uncertainty, the worst poison for the economy. "The 2011 Tsunami was another very big crisis," said Clotilde Delbos, during this same presentation of Renault's results. Except that the disaster is circumscribed in time. We were therefore able to imagine backup solutions, for example in terms of logistics or supply. The difficulty with this coronavirus is that we do not know how long it will last. And there are a number of parts for which we lack readability. "