Expand the age of the cars, if possible plugged in. This is the objective of the Renault group, which has inaugurated a new factory in Seville this Friday to broaden the circular economy in the automotive industry and revamp used cars, both combustion and electric, and give them a second life. Among the novelties of the so-called Refactory, the conversion of combustion vehicles to electric stands out, an operation that no factory has carried out yet in Spain.

Very few small-scale workshops today offer this possibility of transforming a gasoline or diesel car into an electric one, an investment that ranges between 3,000 and 6,000 euros. The new Renault plant in the Andalusian capital hopes to industrialize this work, lower its price, as well as the time spent, so as not to exceed 10 days. “We will optimize the transformation process from combustion to electric, initially with our models and later with cars of all brands. It is about removing the thermal motor to change it for an electric one, adding the battery and power electronics to manage the motor and the battery”, illustrates Pedro Salinas, project manager of the plant, with 958 workers.

For the last half century, the Renault factory in Seville has produced gearboxes for combustion cars for all the factories of the French group and Nissan around the world. From now on, the three new gearboxes that are produced will be for hybrids and electrics in a progressive way, but the factory opens the focus: it will focus on the circular economy to renew used cars, but also to take advantage of the old batteries of the electrical and electromechanical components. Seville only has one mirror in France, at the Flins factory, where the multinational has created its first circular economy project.

Operators at the Refactory circular economy plant in Seville, this Friday. / PACO BRIDGESPACO BRIDGES

The Andalusian factory aspires to renew more than 11,000 cars a year by 2025, which will go “from having the second-hand seal to premium quality at competitive prices”, according to the French brand. In just one year, the manufacture of gearboxes will turn to hybrid and electric vehicles, which will account for 80% of production within a year and will reach 100% in 2030, in its 5,000-square-meter facilities.

A year and a half ago, Renault presented a reindustrialization plan until 2024 to turn Spain into a hub for its electric models, with five new cars and engines for its plants in Castilla y Leon, and the circular economy project and three new boxes of hybrid speeds to mount the new hybrids and plug-in hybrids of the group.

Refactory plans to recondition some 11,000 used vehicles of all makes each year to extend their useful life. The process will last a maximum of 12 days, half the time spent by a workshop, according to the French giant. The operation includes washing, damage assessment, tire scanning and preparing a budget for the client to accept the necessary parts for updating. This transformation can include mechanics, bodywork, painting, sanding, vacuuming and filtering, as well as infrared drying, a review and management of the ITV, in addition to stocking and final transport.

An operator, at Renault’s circular economy plant, Refactory, this Friday. / PACO BRIDGESPACO BRIDGES

Another angle that the factory will cover will be to give a second life to the modules of the old electric batteries that can be used to store energy or to manage their useful life. A third leg of the project will seek new activities derived from the circular economy through collaboration with other companies, the French factory in Flins, the R+D+I center in Valladolid and startup companies and university centers.

In the presentation, the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, highlighted Renault’s commitment to consolidate “social and territorial cohesion” through its factories in Castilla y Leon and Andalusia. “Sustainable mobility is a priority and every time Spain produces more electric vehicles”, she added. Next, the Andalusian president, Juan Manuel Moreno, praised the new factory as “a revolution in terms of mobility sustainability and an outstanding test bench for a new mobility model”.

The christening of the new factory in Seville was attended by Maroto and Moreno accompanied by the general director of Renault Spain, Jose Vicente de los Mozos, who will leave the management of the group next January at the age of 60. At the event, the prizes for the best practice in sustainable mobility were handed out in parallel, and one of the winners was the Provincial Council of Caceres, for the installation of 46 fast-charging electrogas stations in that province, which will provide free charges. over the next two years to all users of electric cars.

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