Luca de Meo: “It is the rich who will finance the energy transition of the automobile”
Challenges – The creation of two electrical and thermal poles will be announced on November 8th. Why this business transformation?
Luca De Meo – Renault had a classic, somewhat monolithic and complex structure with brands, functions, regions and the alliance. In the 1990s, these matrix organizations were all the rage. We’re now trying to structure the business more simply, with stronger tech driving the group and brands pulling them. For thirty years we have believed that everything is a matter of critical size. This applies to constant or growing demand with mature technology. But if you don’t know what the right technology will be three years from now, it’s in your interest to build a different, more agile organization so that Renault is as modern and innovative as possible. The thermal and electrical poles are next to the markings. We push the responsibilities in these units. Such as the houses of the LVMH Group. Ampère’s electrical division will be at the heart of Renault, with compact teams of 10,000 dedicated employees, focusing on six or seven initiatives for the future of the sector. We can eventually open the capital, list these different companies, call investors. You have to get money outside. And for that you need solid projects, otherwise the money won’t come.
How far can Renault’s diversification go in the service sector?
The company is preparing to generate 20% of its revenue from Mobilize by 2030. With leasing, maybe insurance. But why not energy management, using the value of batteries after their first life in the car, using data?
We are talking about Geely’s entry into the future thermal pole. But now you’ve reached an agreement with this Chinese manufacturer to make its platforms available to you in Korea, where until now you’ve been the sole driver. Why?
A few years ago, our partner Nissan decided to relocate the assembly of its Nissan Rogue SUV from Korea to Japan. A legitimate move that had the disadvantage of leaving the factory at half production capacity. We decided to design a European version of the Renault Arkana SUV coupe and it worked out well. But despite its success, its production (in addition to that of the Renault Talisman and Renault Koleos) is not enough to occupy the plant, which operates at 30% capacity. However, in South Korea, the regulations are very protective of the worker: it is very difficult to close a factory. A shutdown followed by thousands of layoffs would have exposed Renault to billions in fines. The choice was therefore simple: either I close this factory at the risk of a major social crisis looming, or I find a solution. I’ve looked everywhere. And I hit it off with Li Shufu, CEO of the Chinese manufacturer Geely. It gives me the platforms to sell its cars in the Korean market under the Korean Samsung brand, which accounts for 6% to 8% of the national market. I had no other solution. And in exchange for those platforms, I gave Geely part of our subsidiary.
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