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Renault falls to record 8 billion losses

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Renault fell to a record loss of 8 billion euros last year as the French automaker and its alliance partner Nissan suffered from the destructive effect of the pandemic on European demand.

The net loss was worse than the 7.8 billion euros predicted by analysts, but much of the damage came in the first half, with Renault describing 2020 as a “year of contrasts.”

In the second half of the year, the operating margin was 3.5% and Renault generated positive automotive operating free cash flow.

For the year as a whole, the group’s turnover fell 22% to 43.5 billion euros, slightly below estimates.

Managing Director Luca de Meo warned that the automaker faces a painful period ahead: “2021 is shaping up to be difficult given the unknowns regarding the health crisis as well as shortages of electronic components.

The group estimated that the global shortage of microchips could reduce production this year by 100,000 vehicles.

“The priority is profitability and cash generation, as announced in our strategic plan,” said de Meo.

Renault’s new boss has already said he would cut plant capacity by a quarter, increase cost cuts by € 2-3 billion by 2025 – including 15,000 job cuts – and revise his brands in a recovery plan to revive his fortune.

De Meo, which took over last July, will also drop its revenue and market share targets and focus solely on operating margins, cash flow and return on investment, a clear break with the strategy of the former boss of Renault and Nissan, Carlos Ghosn.

Renault said on Friday that 60% of the initial savings plan of € 2 billion had already been achieved, well ahead of targets.

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