An hour’s drive north of Paris along the River Seine lies Flins, home to Renault SA’s biggest and oldest factory, where 2,700 workers and 900 robots toil in tandem to churn out a steady stream of compact cars. More than half of the vehicles rolling off the line, however, don’t carry the Renault diamond badge.
Instead, the factory’s most important car is the Nissan Micra, of which Flins produced 94,000 last year. The site’s shift towards the Japanese model is emblematic of Nissan Motor Co.’s heft in an alliance it’s nevertheless failed to dominate since its inception almost two decades ago. Even French President Emmanuel Macron has been drawn into photo ops with management to tout Nissan’s plans in France, rolling up last month at Renault in the northern city of Maubeuge, where a Nissan van will be made. While Flins is ramping up Renault’s Zoe electric car, the vehicle still accounts for less than a fifth of output.