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Renault Seeks 6.5% More Work Hours at French Car Plants

Renault SA, France’s second-biggest carmaker, is seeking a 6.5 percent increase in work hours at its domestic factories in an effort to reduce spending 65 million euros ($85 million) a year to boost profit.

The manufacturer will seek unions’ agreement for a 35-hour workweek at all its sites in France when the two sides meet Jan. 15 to discuss efficiency measures, Raluca Barb, a Renault spokeswoman, said in a phone interview today.

Renault, based in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, is among European carmakers struggling with excess capacity as the region’s market is set to shrink for a sixth consecutive year. Executives told union leaders in November that industrywide sales won’t start picking up again before 2018.

Chief Operating Officer Carlos Tavares said on Sept. 28 that there are too many car plants in Europe and that he expected to find common ground with French unions on competitiveness moves “in the next few months.” Tavares cited Renault’s factory in Palencia, Spain, and a Sunderland, England, site run by affiliate Nissan Motor Co. as examples of efficiency to emulate.

PSA Peugeot Citroen, Europe’s second-biggest carmaker and Renault’s larger domestic competitor, estimated today that the European auto market will shrink 3 percent to 5 percent in 2013.

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