Renault is planning a big increase to capacity over the next few years at its Alliance manufacturing plant in Tangier, Morocco, that currently makes Dacia models.

The plant is currently making the Dacia Lodgy (compact MPV) and Dokker (light commercial vehicle) models with a capacity of 30 vehicles per hour and 170,000 vehicles a year (phase 1 of the project). However, the company is planning in 2013 to begin the step up to capacity of 60 vehicles an hour or 350,000 a year (phase 2).

Output for this year is put at around 50,000 units (40,000 units Lodgy and 10,000 units Dokker), with 90% of the plant’s output exported, much of it to Europe. Sandero 2 will be added to production in 2013.

Plant director Tunc Basegmez acknowledged that there are uncertainties ahead for demand, especially in Europe, but told just-auto that the plant could make 130,000 units in 2013 under current plans. “We are exporting to a wide geographical base,” he said. “Places like Eastern Europe, Turkey, Russia…in fact some one hundred countries. And there is also a significant market for us in the North Africa Mediterranean region and the Middle East.”

The Tangier production facility, which includes a body shop and paint shop, currently operates on two-shift basis, as an Alliance plant working to the Alliance Production Way (APW) – and its set-up is described as very similar to that of the Alliance plant in Chennai, India.

The plant employs around 4,000 workers, a figure that is expected to rise to 7,000 under phase 2 expansion. Renault estimates that indirect employment with local suppliers could mean that as many as 45,000 net new jobs are eventually generated in Morocco from its Tangier investment.

Nissan could also make vehicles at the Tangier facility in the future. Nissan backed out of investing at Tangier during the economic crisis of 2009, when the Alliance partners decided that Renault would focus on Tangier and Nissan would focus on Chennai. But the two makers share platforms and the flexible manufacturing set-up at Tangier would facilitate future Nissan participation. The addition of Nissan manufacturing at Tangier could take long-term production capacity at Tangier to 400,000 units a year.