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Renault has decided to bow out of making cars in the world’s largest vehicle market, as a three-month shutdown of its Wuhan assembly in the former coronavirus epicentre pushed the French carmaker beyond any hope of catching up with competitors in China.
Renault will transfer the 50 per cent stake in its venture with Dongfeng Motor Group to its Chinese partner, according to a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange, where Dongfeng’s shares are traded.
The French carmaker, based in Boulogne-Billancourt in western Paris, will focus on producing light commercial vehicles at its Jinbei venture with China Brilliance Automotive in Shenyang, and electric vehicles such as the Renault City K-ZE sports-utility vehicle, it said.
“Given the downturn in the domestic market and Dongfeng Renault’s operation, shareholders intend to restructure Dongfeng Renault,” Dongfeng said. “The company intends to implement business transformation and upgrading with Dongfeng Renault,” it said, adding that the unit will stop engaging in business activities related to the Renault brand.
Renault is the second overseas carmaker to exit China's assemblies since Japan's Suzuki Motors ended its venture in 2018 to focus on India, in which the Japanese brand is the dominant marque. Its departure follows years of lacklustre sales since the Dongfeng Renault venture began in 2013, during which it had the lowest sales relative to its installed capacity.
Infographics: Global carmakers and their venture partners in China
A Renault Clio E-Tech Hybrid at the Brussels Motor Show on January 9, 2020.