Renault will likely build a new small minivan based on the next-generation Clio at its plant in Valladolid, Spain, starting in 2005.
The car will be based on the Ellypse concept that debuted at the Paris auto show in September 2002. Renault showed the Ellypse again at last month's Barcelona auto show, albeit in a discreet setting at the rear of its stand.
Renault wants to fill a gap in its minivan model lineup. The new small minivan will be positioned below the full-size Espace and compact Scenic.
The addition of the small minivan at Valladolid should boost production at the plant from the 219,750 units expected this year to more than 280,000 units in 2005.
Valladolid currently builds the outgoing Clio and also some engines such as the 1.5-liter diesel unit used in the Clio, Megane and Nissan Micra and Almera.
Engine production is expected to increase by more than 90 percent in 2005 to 1.4 million units, due to increased demand for the small-displacement engines that Valladolid produces.
Sixty kilometers north of Valladolid, Renault has another plant in the city of Palencia. Three- and five-door versions of the second-generation Megane have been in production at Palencia since summer 2002. In the next few months, Renault will add production of the station wagon derivative of the new Megane, likely to be named Grand Tour. The French carmaker showed a version of the new station wagon at Barcelona.
Renault invested E282 million to build the new Megane at Palencia. Production at the plant is expected to increase by 5 percent from 286,423 units in 2002 to 300,803 units in 2005.
"We are very satisfied with our productivity results at Palencia and we are considering the introduction of a third shift there," said Renault Chairman Louis Schweitzer.
After the first two generations of the Megane, Schweitzer said "there will probably also be a Megane III built in Palencia."
Palencia used to make the four-door sedan version of the Megane but that model is now being produced in Bursa, Turkey. Production of the station wagon derivative was switched from Bursa to Palencia.
"We decided to change plants because we think there's a big potential for our new station wagon, with a much more attractive design, in countries such as Italy and Portugal and also in northern Europe," said a Renault insider.
The source said Renault decided to concentrate production of the four-door sedan version in Turkey "because there's big potential for such a model in the emerging countries in eastern Europe."
Renault's presence in Spain also includes a factory in Seville that produces transmissions for the Renault Laguna and Nissan Primera.