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Renault Austral, the most Spanish car in the Group: engine, gearbox and software development made in Spain

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After the end of production of the Kadjar at the Palencia plant on July 8, a new era now begins with the start of production of the Austral, a compact, modern SUV with the most advanced hybrid technology. We have visited the factory where the new Renault is already produced.

With the start-up of production of the new Austral, the Renault Group’s Palencia plant launches a new stage of the plan Renewal announced by the president of the group, the Italian Luca de Meo. A plan according to which the Spanish factories of the group would focus on the production of hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, while the French would focus on a new generation of electric vehicles. A good intermediate solution, since electric vehicles require 30% less labor to build. And they would mean losing jobs.

After the production start-up at the Valladolid plant of the new captured, with its efficient hybrid versions, now it was the turn of the Palencia factory, which on July 8 stopped manufacturing its previous model, the Kadjar. The latter was a transition vehicle, since it was launched on the market in 2015 and it has only been on the market for seven years. The objective of this model was to compete in the compact SUV segment, the most sought after in the Spanish and European market.

The Kadjar was, basically, a model developed very quickly, based on the Nissan Qashqai, with which it shared mechanics and a platform, which was launched on the market in 2015. Despite this character of a transitional vehicle, at the plant of Palencia almost 700,000 units have been manufactured. The “Spanish” model was marketed in 50 countries around the world. But now a new product has arrived to replace it, specifically developed by the French brand, the Southern. A much more technological model.

The key to the new model is that it will replace the current Kadjar but always with electrified mechanics, which is positioned as a larger alternative to two models already on sale such as the Captur with its hybrid technology and also the 100% electric Megane e-Tech. In this case of the new Austral, all versions will incorporate new generation hybrid engines. And for this reason they will all have the “eco” label in Spain.

end of diesel

the new southern will only be offered with petrol engines and most of them will be unpublished in the brand. Among the new engines, a new generation hybrid E-Tech engine with 160 hp and a 1.3-liter 12-volt mild hybrid with 140 hp stand out.

The Austral is an important vehicle for the Spanish industrial sector as it ensures workload at the Villamuriel de Cerrato plant for the coming years, in Palencia. The new Renault model went on sale in the Spanish market on June 30, when orders began.

Without a doubt, it is remarkable that the new model is the most Spanish vehicle ever manufactured in Spain by Renault. Not only is it produced exclusively worldwide at the Palencia plant. Its engines also come from the Valladolid plant, the gearboxes are from Seville and likewise the sophisticated hybrid system comes from Valladolid.

To all this is added that all the software development of the vehicle, both the calibration of the product and the connectivity systems developed with the Google operating system has been carried out entirely in the R&D&I center that the French brand has in the Valladolid factory. 1,100 engineers work at this center and it is a key part of Renault in Spain, beyond its factories.

The objective with this new range is to achieve a maximum efficiency in new Renault models, with reduced emissions that will start from 105 g/km of CO2 for the E-Tech engine in the WLTP cycle. This range will offer a wide range of power options up to 200 horsepower.

At the Palencia plant, for the time being, some versions of the current Megane with gasoline and diesel thermal engines are also still being manufactured. This Megane of the previous generation is a compact model, while the new Megane E-tech, which is already manufactured in France, is a slightly smaller B-segment vehicle with an SUV style.


Renault Austral assembly line

For this reason it is also higher, but above all it is 100% electric. The lack of sales of these electric models in markets such as Spain still means that the Palencia plant will continue to manufacture variants of the previous Megane in the coming monthswhich continue to have a very good reception in the markets.

This plan in the Spanish Renault factories was launched in March 2021 when, in the presence of the King and the President of the Government, Luca de Meo unveiled an ambitious investment plan with the slogan “Renault and Spain, a history that unites us “. A plan that would more than 12,000 million euros of added value in the Spanish economy.

The Italian executive then announced that Renault would assign five new vehicles to its Spanish plants, in addition to engines and gearboxes, which guaranteed employment in Valladolid and Palencia, in addition to the gearbox plant in Seville.

The latter, Seville, has just announced that it will exclusively manufacture the gearboxes for the hybrid models for the whole world in the coming years. And in Palencia, production of the new Austral has already begun, the sales of which will begin at the end of the summer. The new Mitsubishi ASX will be manufactured at the Valladolid plant from 2023 with the platform and mechanics of the Renault Captur.

As for the Palencia plant, although there is still no official confirmation, it is certain that a plug-in hybrid variant will arrive later. And there are still two more models to be assigned to this factory, within the strategic plan, one of which could be a Mitsubishi from the compact segment, sharing a platform with the Austral.

Within the ambitious plan Renewal, the French group announced in mid-2020 a strong restructuring of employment worldwide with the elimination of 15,000 jobs worldwide and a drop in production to 3.8 million vehicles per year. This, together with the serious crisis that the automotive sector is going through worldwide, endangered the situation of the Spanish plants.

However, with the latest steps taken, the Renault Group has made a great commitment to Spain, not only on a commercial level but, above all, on an industrial level. ensuring workload for its three Spanish factories, at least for the next ten years. And without a doubt, a key element in this new context has been the presence of José Vicente de los Mozos, as head of production for the Renault group worldwide.

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