"My vision for France is as follows: we have to reconnect with our territory", launched a few days ago in a document distributed to management and unions the new general manager of Renault, Luca de Meo. To achieve this, the manufacturer at Losange should surround itself with a reference made in France, and not the least: Luciano Biondo, director of the Toyota plant in Onnaing, not far from Valenciennes (North).
According to the newspaper The echoes, this emblematic figure of the Made in France automobile could join the Renault group as head of factories in the north, namely the Maubeuge, Douai and Ruitz sites, which respectively produce the Renault Kangoo, the Renault Talisman, Scénic and Espace , as well as gearboxes.
On Friday September 11, Toyota confirmed the departure of Luciano Biondo, simply indicating in a statement his departure for "pursue other interests outside the Toyota group". Toyota Motor Europe senior vice president of manufacturing, Marvin Cooke, will take the reins of the Japanese automaker's northern site. And this, while the factory is in full swing. In addition to producing the Toyota Yaris, the Onnaing site has landed the assembly of a new city SUV, the Yaris Cross. Enough to allow the plant to reach 300,000 vehicles produced and make the site one of the largest in France. At the same time, the workforce at the Onnaing factory has climbed to 4,500 since Luciano Biondo took over as its manager.
A hailed nomination
A very favorable result for this man on the ground, who joined Toyota in the 2000s as an engineer in the paint shop. A few years later, Luciano Biondo made a detour to PSA and ended up becoming director of the Trnava plant in Slovakia… Where the Peugeot 208s were relocated. And this, before his return in 2014 to the plant in Onnaing, which he took over in 2016. In a press release, CFDT Renault said "(welcome) with satisfaction" the arrival of this experienced profile. "Mr. Biondo has enabled Toyota to strengthen in France, to be competitive and to have succeeded in developing employment in the Valenciennes basin. Let us hope that the Valenciennes experience will be beneficial for all the factories in France of the Renault group. ", writes the union.
A possible arrival that comes in full reorganization of the industrial footprint of the Renault group. In its savings plan presented in May, the French manufacturer presented several projects targeting factories in France. In the north of France precisely, the new management of Renault was considering a transfer of the vehicle assembly activity from its Maubeuge plant to its Douai site. In the tracks sketched by Luca de Meo, only the creation of a "electrical center of excellence" in the north of France, a project that has long been mentioned, is highlighted. It remains to be seen whether Luciano Biondo will be able to reverse Renault's curve and boost the production of finished vehicles in France, as at Toyota.
Between 2005 and 2018, Renault's production volumes in France would have increased from more than 1.2 million units to 640,000, according to estimates by Inovev. A fall that the new management will have to stop if it wants to "reconnect to its territory", as Luca de Meo wishes. In the meantime, the possible appointment of Luciano Biondo appears as a new take for the group at Losange. Before him, Renault had managed to curry favor with star PSA designer Gilles Vidal as well as Seat design director Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos. Before them, the group had recruited a figure of the French automobile in the person of Gilles Le Borgne, former head of R&D at PSA, who became director of engineering.
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