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New Renault boss to cut more costs in turnaround drive

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Key Points
  • In his first strategy update since taking over last July, Luca de Meo outlines plans to simplify manufacturing, rein in spending in areas like research and cut car production.
  • The executive says he plans to focus on electric cars in particular in terms of new launches.
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Renault's new Chief Executive Luca de Meo hiked the French carmaker's cost savings target on Thursday and further cut into the number of cars it plans to turn out as he tries to lift profitability at the loss-making company.

In his first strategy update since taking over last July, De Meo outlined plans to simplify manufacturing and rein in spending in areas like research, while cutting car production to around 3.1 million vehicles in 2025, from 4 million in 2019.

Renault also hiked its cost savings target by 500 million euros ($608 million) to 2.5 billion euros by 2023, and set goals to gradually ramp up operating margins, reaching 5% by 2023.

It has yet to publish margins for 2020, though following the COVID-19 pandemic which disrupted operations, they are likely to be lower than the 4.8% hit in 2019.

Four years after former boss-turned-fugitive Carlos Ghosn unveiled his ambitious view for Renault, based on expanding car volumes globally, De Meo is changing tack, rowing back on a drive to try to grow everywhere.

A picture taken in June 2020 shows the entrance to the plant of French carmaker Renault in Choisy-le-Roi, near Paris.
BERTRAND GUAY | AFP | Getty Images

The executive, who previously ran Volkswagen's Seat brand, said he planned to focus on electric cars in particular in terms of new launches.

"This boosted efficiency will fuel our future line-up: tech-infused, electrified and competitive," De Meo said in a statement.

Renault was struggling with waning sales even before the COVID-19 crisis and has been trying to get a partnership with Japan's Nissan back on track.