Renault’s fledgling Modus ‘supermini’ may be cute, but it’s becoming a big headache for the French carmaker.

Sales are so anaemic that Renault will slash production nearly 30% to 500 daily units. That’s on top of two prior downgrades which now total a 50% cut from last September’s initial production rates of 975.

As part of the move, the company will eliminate 400 temporary jobs and transfer an undisclosed number of workers from its 4,200-strong Valladolid factory, a company spokeswoman told just-auto. The plant exports the Modus to 168 markets.

Renault has not yet determined how the Modus’ crisis will impact its Spanish revenues, which were seen rising to €8.5 billion last September, an estimate that hinged on the Modus selling strongly.

“This is Renault’s fault,” said Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) union leader Luis Miguel Gomez Miguel.

Renault overpriced the car for many markets and even though Valladolid has began assembling a lower-specification model, the recovery is “going to be costly and painful,” he added.

Renault is to meet trade unions this Thursday to work out a job reduction plan, which angry unions won’t accept, Gomez said. They will press Renault to bring a new model to Valladolid’s versatile B platform and save the factories’ jobs as a result, or “they can give us a better plan,” Gomez added.

Meanwhile, Renault is hoping that healthy sales of its Megane (Spain’s best-selling car) will help boost this year’s fortunes. The spokeswoman said sales could match last year’s 117,624 units.

The redesigned Clio’s Spanish debut in October (7,000 units estimated for this year; 40,000 for 2006) should also help lift the bottom line, she added.

Ivan Castano