PRODUCED IN THE HISTORICAL CITROËN PRODUCTION SITE OF RENNES – LA JANAIS, NEW C5 AIRCROSS SUV WILL HERALD ITS “ORIGINE FRANCE GARANTIE” LABEL AT THE PARIS MOTOR SHOW
New C5 Aircross SUV will be making its public debut in its French production version at the Paris Motor Show from 4 to 14 October 2018. Endowing a unique personality and more comfort and modularity, it is already available to order in France and will be launched in the third-quarter 2018. Produced at the Rennes – La Janais site, a very symbolic place in Citroën’s history, New C5 Aircross SUV has obtained in August the “Origine France Garantie” label. Read on to find out more about the historical Citroën plant that has produced the majority of the Brand’s legendary models, and which has been transformed in depth to manufacture the new flagship.
The Rennes – La Janais plant holds a special place in Citroën’s history. It is a longstanding Citroën stronghold, created in 1960 on an initiative of Charles de Gaulle to make Brittany an industrial region, and focused purely on the production of Citroën models. Even though the plant has produced other models to meet the industrial performance objectives of Groupe PSA, this plant is intimately linked with Citroën. The plant has therefore been very proud to obtain the production of New C5 Aircross SUV, the Brand’s new spearhead.
01. ORIGINE FRANCE GARANTIE
New C5 Aircross SUV, assembled in Rennes and calling on suppliers based as a majority in France, some of them in the Rennes area and others directly at the site, has earned the Origine France Garantie label from launch. In this respect, it joins E-MEHARI, also produced at Rennes – La Janais, as well as SpaceTourer and Jumpy, produced at Valenciennes. For customers, this label is a guarantee of French know-how, underpinned by nearly 60 years of production history at Rennes.
For the assembly of New C5 Aircross SUV, the plant calls on suppliers based as a majority in France, some of them located close to the plant and some at the plant itself. Among them are the following:
- Faurecia: the seats are produced at the plant itself, while the dashboards, door panels and mats are manufactured at the Bains sur Oust site (50 km)
- Tenneco: exhaust lines assembled at the plant itself.
- TI: fuel tank assembled at the plant itself.
- Tenneco: cockpit assembled at the plant itself.
- Bretagne Ateliers: engine cooling panel and ceiling lining at the plant itself.
- Plastic Omnium: front and rear bumpers and tailgate produced at Guichen (20 km)
- MC Synchro: wheels assembled at Guichen (20 km)
- Cooper Standard: anti-vibration parts produced at Rennes, opening panel sealing produced at Vitré (50 km)
- Sanden: air-conditioning compressors sourced at Tinténiac (50 km)
The Origine France Garantie label is coordinated by the Pro France organisation that seeks to promote the “France Brand”. Founded in June 2010, Pro France brings together companies seeking to contribute to the certification of the French origin of their products in a completely transparent manner through independent certification bodies, including AFNOR, CERIB, FCBA, SGS and Bureau Veritas. The aim of the organisation is to highlight the “France Brand” and promote and support products manufactured in France and the companies producing them, across all activity sectors. With customers ascribing increasing importance to short distribution circuits and to the environmental and social impact of the products they buy, this label is a vital development. In early January 2018, some 600 companies were committed to the Origine France Garantie policy and over 2,000 product ranges were certified.
02. THE RENNES PLANT: KEY DATES AND LEGENDARY MODELS
The Rennes plant has produced a considerable number of legendary Citroën models, among them the Ami 6, Dyane, GS, BX, XM, Xantia, C5 and C6. These illustrious models stand as Brand flagships and success symbols – with the Citroën GS and Citroën XM having been voted Car of the Year in 1971 and 1990, respectively – and have featured landmark automotive innovations, such as the hydraulics of the hydropneumatic and hydractive suspension systems fitted on the GS, BX, XM, Xantia, C5 and C6. These models, successes and innovations underscore the plant’s legitimacy relative to the production of New C5 Aircross SUV, the Brand’s new flagship, with the first model having come off the Rennes production line on 22 March 2018.
Overview of nearly 60 years of history:
- 1960: the inauguration of the plant is attended by Charles de Gaulle.
- 1961: the first Citroën Ami 6 models come off the assembly line, followed by Ami 8 and Ami Super, produced over a ten-year period in 1.5 million units.
- 1967: Citroën Dyane is launched – originally intended as a replacement of the 2CV (though the longevity of and love for this last would put pay to that plan!) – and produced in nearly 390,000 units.
- 1970: the launch of Citroën GS, voted Car of the Year in 1971 and produced in over two million units, more than any other model manufactured by the plant.
- 1976: the PSA Peugeot Citroën Group is created through the merger of Peugeot SA and Citroën SA, the two automotive companies being subsidiaries of the Group.
- 1978: the Rennes plant begins production of Citroën Visa, the result of the alliance between Peugeot and Citroën. A total 560,000 units would be produced.
- 1982: the launch of Citroën BX, produced at Rennes in over 1.9 million units.
- 1986: the launch of Citroën AX, with nearly 560,000 units produced through 1996.
- 1989: the plant starts up production of the new high-end model, Citroën XM. The site substantially modernises its body and assembly workshops to produce the new model, voted Car of the Year in 1990 and produced in over 300,000 units.
- 1993: the production launch of Citroën Xantia, ultimately produced in over 1,080,000 units.
- 1997: the production launch of Citroën Xsara, also manufactured at Madrid. The Rennes plant goes on to produce over 960,000 units.
- 2000: production of the first-generation C5, built in over 720,000 units through 2007.
- 2001: with the introduction of the platform policy, the Rennes site now focuses on high-end Group models, a strong symbol and sign of the Group’s trust in the plant’s production quality. At the start of the 2000s, the plant manufactures over 400,000 vehicles a year on three production lines.
- 2004: the Rennes site tops the mark of ten million vehicles produced and initiates production of its first non-Citroën model, Peugeot 407.
- 2006: the launch of the high-end Citroën C6, a worthy successor to XM.
- 2007: Citroën Xsara Picasso joins the Rennes production lines and is manufactured in over 60,000 units until 2009.
- 2008: the production launch of the second-generation Citroën C5, manufactured through 2017 and produced at Rennes in some 430,000 units.
- 2008: the “Ambition Rennes 2010” company project is implemented to trim the size of the manufacturing site, which has become too large, with a view to reducing costs.
- 2009: start-up of the mini line producing Citroën C6, Peugeot 607 and Peugeot 407 Coupé. The main line goes into operation in August producing 46 vehicles an hour. This line produces Citroën C5 and Peugeot 407 through December 2010 and then Peugeot 508.
- 2011: the launch of Peugeot 508 production, with over 500,000 units produced through 2018.
- 2016: the production launch of Citroën E-MEHARI, a cheeky nod to the iconic Méhari of 1968. An all-electric 4-seater cabriolet, the new model marks a further step forward in the partnership with the Bolloré Group.
- 2017 - 2018: a new era begins at the Rennes plant with the arrival of the EMP2 modular platform and the production launch of two SUVs, Peugeot 5008 in 2017 and Citroën C5 Aircross in 2018.
- 2018: the opening of the all-new assembly line, compliant with “Excellent Plant” standards, and the dismantling of the old assembly line, the remains of an illustrious industrial past.
03. THE START OF THE 2010s AND THE RENEWAL OF THE PLANT
The start of the 2010s was somewhat complicated for the plant, impacted by diminishing consumer interest in traditional high-end saloons. These last, the key to the plant’s success in the 2000s, had clearly fallen out of favour and the Rennes site needed to renew. That renewal came in the form of SUVs.
In mid-2014 the signature of the New Social Contract allocated the industrial development of Peugeot 5008 to the plant, with production starting up in early 2017. A total €90 million was invested in the initiative. In early 2016 the PSA Group chose the plant to produce the European version of C5 Aircross, the version produced in China being exclusively dedicated to that country. The site was selected on the condition that it move ahead with its competitiveness plan and step up its modernisation plan. As such, all the technical teams, employees and public authorities concerned (the Brittany region and the Rennes metropolitan area) developed a performance plan to enable the Rennes plant to obtain the production of the new model. To successfully manufacture C5 Aircross at Rennes, the site had to be transformed and enhanced to reduce overheads and optimise the production cost price of the vehicle. Thus it is the arrival of New C5 Aircross SUV that has lent new momentum to the Rennes plant and triggered its transformation. The modernisation plan is accompanied by an investment of €100 million with the Rennes metropolitan area and the Brittany region contributing to the transformation through 15% of the total investment, which will also benefit players in the automotive sector in Brittany.
For the production of New SUV C5 Aircross, the entire site needed to be redesigned. The body assembly line needed to be more compact, the paint shop needed to be optimised with narrower ranges and, last but not least, the assembly line had to be entirely overhauled as it was showing signs of age, some of the components dating back to the birth of the plant or the XM. The transformation has given rise to a totally new workshop with a completely different work environment, one that is brighter, cleaner, quieter and more serene – light years away from the “Modern Times” spirit of the 20th century. It ushers in the era of the “Excellent Plant”.
The initiative to make the plant more compact concerns both built and non-built areas. Between 2015 and 2019, the covered surface area of the plant will have been reduced from 220 ha to 53 ha and the non-covered area from 83 ha to 35 ha. Assembly, with the new line, accounts for half of the previous covered surface area. Thanks to the work on making the Rennes – La Janais plant more compact, the site is now able to host external suppliers, including Faurecia, Tenneco, Bretagne Ateliers and TI Automotive. These on-site suppliers are connected to the assembly line by automated guided vehicles (AGVs), serving to fully optimise transport logistics. The on-site hosting of suppliers was made possible through their local presence. Initially based close to the Rennes site, they were able to relocate with no impact on human resources. They benefit from optimised conditions at the Rennes – La Janais site, for a true win-win arrangement.
The presence of full kitting logistics makes for a true paradigm shift, the new line having made a clean break with the old one. Full kitting is a new logistics approach that generates economies of scale and enables the implementation of just-in-time supply by fostering the reduction of stocks, and intermediate stocks in particular. Previously, operators picked the parts corresponding to the vehicle to be produced from a nearby trolley, and so they had an extensive number of parts at hand’s reach. With the increase in the diversity and number of body styles, this work method had become too complex. With the new system now in place, the vehicle body moves forward with all its constituent parts; operators simply take the part and assemble it. Each parts kit is prepared in advance for the vehicle to be assembled and moves forward with the vehicle along the assembly line. The parts are within easy reach and no mistakes are possible! With a view to improving work-station ergonomics, each vehicle body is placed at the right height for the operator via a bellows system or on a swing, the height of which can be adjusted using a pantograph. All of these changes have been made possible through the use of AGVs, linked up by WiFi to a supervision system. AGVs are autonomous battery-powered vehicles that automatically convey parts kits, chassis, engines and vehicle bodies in the assembly process around the plant. The total range of the nearly 300 AGVs at the plant is composed of 11 km of guide strips.
The old assembly line, dating from the 20th century and closed since the ramp-up of the new assembly line, will be totally dismantled to free up space as part of the effort to make the site more compact and make way for the new body shop. The new, high performance and versatile body shop is compatible with several body styles. Special islands have been installed. The body shop is equipped with more than 270 robots, some of them used for both the C5 Aircross and 5008 bodies and some of them specific to one or the other body. Some stages in the process are specific to each vehicle body, notably the doors or the preparation of the sides.
The paint shop has been thoroughly overhauled as part of the plant’s transformation plan to make the paint process both more environmental and more economical. With the introduction of a compact range, energy consumption has been reduced by roughly 30% (60,000 MWh/year) through a new chemical primer process that eliminates a firing phase. The compact range process, referred to as the Compact Paint Process range, also generates a substantial reduction in the quantity of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released into the atmosphere. All the body colours will switch to a compact range for the launch of C5 Aircross. The paint shop has been equipped to manage two-tone colours (Perla Nera Black roof). The bodies, initially single-colour, go through a second process, masked with canvas, to obtain a black roof. The paint process is identical for the C5 Aircross and 5008 bodies, for absolute optimisation.
Following the successful launch of Peugeot 5008 and with the arrival of New C5 Aircross SUV, for which Citroën has major sales ambitions, the plant is once again hiring personnel. It is increasing the number of shifts from one to two and then three and rolling out a wide-ranging training and recruitment plan as part of its fresh momentum. The site has 2,800 employees, of whom 800 on a temp basis. It is currently recruiting a fourth shift for implementation on 1 December, with 350 additional jobs involved. The workforce can be broken down as follows: 75% workers, 20% employees, technicians and supervisors, and 5% engineers and managers. Women account for 20% of the workforce. The plant is also headed by a woman, Thérèse Joder, tasked in particular with ensuring the successful transformation of the plant.
Thanks to the strong commitment made by the Rennes – La Janais plant, the production of New C5 Aircross SUV can begin in the best possible conditions. With a brand new line, a Citroën vehicle produced in France and meeting customer expectations, and employees motivated by contributing to the future success of Citroën’s new high-end models, activity at the Rennes – Le Janais site is fully in the spotlight.
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