TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - Renault SA will begin using industrial-strength glue in place of welds next month when it launches a minivan based on the Clio at a plant in Spain.
The robot-applied glue will be used on some underbody parts, including the engine compartment and rear frame.
The plan is one piece of Renault's efforts to cut manufacturing costs and improve quality control, said Jean-Christophe Kugler, Renault's manager of body assembly engineering.
Alliance partner Nissan Motor Co. has helped with the changes, Kugler said at the Management Briefing Seminars.
Kugler said Renault will emphasize the carryover of existing equipment during new-model launches.
Renault spends about $150 million to change body equipment for a new model, but he estimates that the cost eventually could drop to $90 million.
Renault also will embrace laser welding on its bodies and reduce the number of quality inspection points during manufacturing, Kugler said.
He said some of the changes will occur soon, while some Renault plants will not change their procedures for nearly a decade.
Renault only recently made big investments in its large Douai plant in France, for example, and does not expect to restructure that body shop until 2012, Kugler said.
In the past two years, engineers from Renault and Nissan have been looking for ways to reduce their overall operating costs - not just in body manufacturing but also in engineering and purchasing.
Nissan also has helped Renault rethink its approach to quality inspection during the body build. Vehicle bodies have to be welded to precise specification before they can be passed on to final assembly.
Until now, Renault relied on as many as 500 inspection points per body, Kugler said.
Under the new approach, plants will look at fewer than 80.