Romanian factory to make Renault engines: spokesman

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French auto maker Renault will have one of its new fuel-efficient engines manufactured at a factory in Romania, it said Friday, but denied this threatened jobs in France's cherished auto sector.

"We have two new engines which are going to come out in the coming months, the H4, which will be made in Romania, and the H5 in Valladolid in Spain," a Renault spokesman who asked not to be named told AFP.

"The H4 and H5 are intended to replace similar older models which were already manufactured in Turkey, Spain and Romania," he said. The Valladolid operations were announced last week.

French newspaper Liberation said the choice of the Dacia car factory in Pitesti, Romania, could cost up to 400 jobs at a site in Douvrin, northern France, which makes engines for Renault's mini Clio and Twingo models.

However the Renault spokesman said the foreign operations would not threaten French jobs since the new-generation engines "are not competitors" of the more powerful D4 engine made at Douvrin.

The prospect of shifting French auto production abroad has sparked outrage in the past at a time of timid economic recovery in a sector that is one of the biggest providers of jobs in France.

Renault is 15-percent owned by the French state and carries out 29 percent of its production in France.

Dacia, a Romanian subsidiary of Renault, makes the low-cost Logan model which also uses the D4 engine.

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy has committed to defending auto workers against shifting production. He summoned Renault's chief executive Carlos Ghosn last year to express concern over reported plans to make the Clio 4 in Turkey.

Ghosn "announced in February that there would be no site closures nor lay-offs nor voluntary redundancies under the new strategic plan, and that applies to Douvrin," the Renault spokesman said.

© 2011 AFP

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