Used car factory. They will be renewed and sold like new …

Automotive is changing before our eyes. The electrorevolution pushed by Brussels is forcing producers and consumers to revise their habits and reorganize their business plans. The result are, for example, “used car factories” emerging in France. Although it sounds a bit abstract, objects specifically designed for second-hand remanufacturing can be a better business for manufacturers than producing new vehicles!

Powerful Centers “detailing“, which are in fact used car repair facilities, are nothing new. The largest dealerships, such as the French Aramis Group or the Swiss Emil Frey, have their own facilities of this type. in Poland, the Czech chain of AAA Auto dealerships.

Each of the above-mentioned giants sells thousands of cars annually (including financing), often from leasing companies or rental companies, so keeping vehicles in the best technical condition is one of the pillars of the business.

Until now, however, repairs of used cars were not in the area of ​​interest of the producers themselves. However, this is starting to change as the electric revolution progresses. In 2020, Renault launched the first “factory” restoration plant for used cars. The facility in Flins, France, has a capacity of 180 cars per day. Next year, the French want to achieve a result of 45 thousand. cars per year with “the prospect of doubling it in the medium term”.

The Renault factory in Seville, Spain, is also being transformed into this type of facility, which – on an area of ​​5,000 m2 – is to be able to regenerate 10,000 sq m. cars and repair 1000 traction batteries a year.

Where did the factory rebuild fad come from and what impact could this have on the used car market?

Renault is very careful not to use the term “repair shops” when it comes to plants in Flins and Seville. They are subject to strictly defined factory processes – used cars are subjected to detailed control on an automated line where they are photographed and scanned. After technical evaluation, they go to the next “lines” of renewal. Bets have, among others own body shops and paint shops. Worn parts are replaced with new ones, or – in the case of such components as, for example, steering gears – factory-reconditioned. A large part of the factory remanufactured components is supplied by the Renault Choisy-le-Roi plant.

Luca de Meo – Renault CEO – predicts that in 2030 the plant in Flins, where the new Nissan Micra and Renault ZOE are currently being built, will generate more profits from the renovation of used cars than the production of new cars!

Theoretically, reconditioning a used car could be the answer to the current one semiconductor crisis, rising steel prices, problems with the availability of magnesium or … fines for excess emissions. In the case of a vehicle that has already been launched on the market, we have it all behind us.

However, we should remember that record profits are being talked about in the context of 2030, when the offer – at least in theory – will no longer include any combustion-powered cars! Therefore, the sense of investing in “used car factories” should rather be seen in the currently prepared regulations concerning the percentage share of recycled components in the production of new traction batteries. To put it bluntly – car manufacturers are to operate “in a closed circuit”, which may mean the end of mass motorization in the form we know.

For Renault, the investments in plants in Flins and Seville are the result of a new strategy called Renaulution.

How to understand this “closed circuit”? Officially, it is about ecology, of course, but it looks like we are on the verge of a historic change. There are no lithium, cobalt and other raw materials needed for the production of batteries in Europe, so producers will have to “keep an eye on” each produced vehicle, ie – in fact – the carrier of a traction battery. They cannot afford that after 10 or 15 years of operation, the batteries will disappear into the depths of Polish, Ukrainian or Czech garages, serving as home energy storage. How to do it?

It is enough, for example, not to sell new cars! Instead, offer customers various forms of use – leasing or long-term rental, which – in one monthly installment – would include a fee for the use of the vehicle itself, its servicing, insurance and – ultimately – maybe even a form of an electricity subscription. In such a system, the car would be operated on a loan basis and – ultimately – would not end up in private hands. The car, after the period of use by the first “owner” (most often a business customer) and a quick reconstruction in a “used car factory”, would return to the market, but for a smaller installment than in the case of a brand new vehicle. After another 3-5 years of operation, the car would – ultimately – end its life in such a plant, where the batteries would be regenerated by replacing damaged cells (so that they could be used in another used car), and steel or plastics would be recycled.

This scenario may sound like science fiction, but by 2025 the plant in Seville will be able to rebuild 10,000. vehicles and … 1 thousand. batteries per year.

At this point it is worth adding that the factory in Flins takes an average of 8 days to regenerate one car. The facility has, for example, an automated photo-video studio with a turntable, servicing up to 10 cars per hour. Thanks to automation processes, a refurbished car can therefore hit the “market” long before it physically arrives at the dealership. After factory reconstruction, cars may be covered by a 24-month warranty.

The outlined vision may offer many benefits to vehicle users, but requires a fundamental mental shift, and thus the abandonment of private property. In countries such as Poland, where the amount of earnings differs significantly from the countries of the so-called “Old Union”, such a direction may seem shocking. It is different in Germany or France, where the old car is not treated as part of the wealth – earned over many years – but … a source of constant problems. From this perspective, the specter of a monthly installment covering all aspects of vehicle operation does not seem so terrible anymore. Unless, of course, we earn 4,000. euro and not 4 thousand. zloty…

The direction in which the modern automotive industry seems to follow may also have a huge impact on the broadly understood service sector. With time, when ecological bans replace internal combustion cars from the market, one can expect, for example, the dying out of the profession of car mechanic. There will also be no need to maintain wholesalers and automotive stores or run private vehicle disassembly stations, which in turn will have an impact on other sectors of the economy (e.g. transport). How do you like this vision of the automotive future?

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About Eric Wilson

The variety offered by video games never ceases to amaze him. He loves OutRun's drifting as well as the contemplative walks of Dear Esther. Immersing himself in other worlds is an incomparable feeling for him: he understood it by playing for the first time in Shenmue.

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