Renault boss: Geordies are not from Mars shock

As well as 8,000 job cuts at Peugeot, which was covered yesterday, Renault is facing big problems. Sales in Europe dropped by 14.9% in the last six months, partially offset by a 14.3% rise outside Europe – but it sells fewer cars outside Europe, so the latter does not compensate for the former.

Renault has particular issues in France, where its costs are very high. Speaking to Autocar this week, Renault’s Chief Operating Officer, Carlos Tavares suggested that it cost £500 more to build a car in France than at Nissan’s plant in Sunderland. He said of the Geordie workforce, “These are real people, not people from Mars, so why can we not match them?”

No doubt the Sunderland workforce will be pleased to hear that they do indeed inhabit planet earth – which appears to be more than can be said for some of the French union bosses interviewed on TV yesterday. Overall, Renault is in a better position than Peugeot, because it is the biggest shareholder in Nissan, which is still doing very well globally (and in the UK as well). However, it is doing even worse in Britain, possibly because of those pesky Geordies who insist on being so productive.

Renault market share in the UK was just 1.85% in the first half of this year, compared to 4.8% in the first half of 2010.