A Citroen C31 out of the assembly plant in Aulnay-sous-Bois on Friday, October 25. Hundreds of thousands of C3 have already been made. But that car is very special: it will be the last to be assembled in the factory. Forty years after the establishment of the factory by the Automobile Citroën2, production stops this week, before a final closure next year.
In 1973, the first model released Aulnay was the legendary DS symbol Thirty Glorieuses3. The plant was designed to take advantage of the economic dynamism of the time. Unfortunately, his inauguration took place immediately after the first oil shock. She was making large sedans. Finally, apart from the Citroën DS and CX, only small models emerge: Citroën Visa, AX, Saxo, C3 and Peugeot 104, 205 and 106. Of Peugeot4 because the owner of the factory, Automobile Citroën passes into the lap of Peugeot in 1976 to give birth to PSA Peugeot Citroën5.
On the industrial side, the 1980s are still positive. A second assembly line is well established. It will be removed in 2008. In 1985, three different models are manufactured on the site: the great Citroën CX and Citroën LN small and Visa. The site will however make the headlines for social reasons. In 1982, a violent strike ignites Aulnay. Officially, the issue is wage increases. But it is also freedom of association it is. Previously, the site was dominated by a company union, the Confederation of Free Trade Unions (CSL). After five weeks of very hard strike, CGT6 out winning the standoff.
This will be the first conflict of a long series. In 2007, the factory is the only group of blocked several weeks. Ségolène Royal7, candidate in the presidential election, even comes to visit the strikers. This tradition of struggle is explained by the very political orientation of the local branch of the CGT. The media Jean-Pierre Mercier, CGT representative for Aulnay, has been the spokesperson Nathalie Arthaud8 the candidate Fight ouvrière9 during the last presidential election.
This activism was not without consequences for the future of the site. Most investments have been made elsewhere in recent years. The DS3 and the new 208 have been located on the neighboring site, located in Poissy. Future Citroën C4 Cactus, a small, simple and cheap SUV, was assigned to Madrid in 2009. Even the C3 model manufactured in Aulnay, is also sent to the factory in Trnava, Slovakia, which is one of the most productive group. All these vehicles belong to the same class of vehicles, the segment B. "This class is the heart of the French market, but it becomes very difficult to make them stay in the heart of the French production," said Bernard Jullien, director of Gerpisa circle of reflection on the automotive sector.
In this internal competitive environment, the expert believes that the Aulnay site was managed "as an adjustment of the production unit for ten years." Consequently, production has continued to decline since the peak recorded in 2004, nearly 420,000 vehicles assembled in this year alone, falling to 135,000 in 2011. Not surprisingly, the financial indicators were not good this time, because of volume and human and material investments.
However, it is good economic conditions that dictate the closure, not a desire to bring down a difficult to manage site. The collapse of the European new car market has been there. Between 2007 and 2013, new car registrations in Europe fell from nearly 17 to less than 12 million expected this year. A largely insufficient to ensure the profitability of a number of European plants level. The most vulnerable manufacturers – that is to say, general, except Renault10 benefiting from dynamic Dacia11 of "low-cost" – have been forced to react. Fiat12 has closed its Termini Imerese, Sicily. Ford13, the Genk, Belgium. Opel14 close the Bochum, Germany. PSA and decides to sacrifice a factory.
This will Aulnay. The ax fell in July 2012, as part of a drastic cost-cutting plan. Stir in government, where Arnaud Montebourg15 cries betrayal of Peugeot. The new government of François Hollande16 aware that the subject is explosive. PSA Aulnay, 3,000 jobs are at the heart of the Seine-Saint-Denis, a department damaged by the crisis. CGT is necessarily less surprise. In 2011, the union was "out" an internal document management that planned closing … Aulnay in 2014.