Can a truck manufacturer be committed to sustainable development? "Absolutely!" says Renault Trucks. An assertion which it proves in several ways. First of all, from an environmental standpoint, by constantly improving the energy efficiency of its sites, all of which are ISO 14001 certified, and by offering Diesel vehicles with ever diminishing fuel consumption, as well as CNG or electric hybrid vehicles with the Clean Tech label. There is also a societal commitment with the aim of providing "the right truck, in the right place with the right energy". Social involvement is equally important, with a drive to improve workforce well-being via a determined policy which goes much further than regulatory requirements demand. Finally, there is also an economic commitment, demonstrated by the huge investments made at Renault Trucks production plants in France.
Sustainable development - an environmental challenge
Renault Trucks' sustainable development policy is first of all built around the environment. And in this field, there are those who talk and those who do. Renault Trucks has decided to belong to the second category.
A process begun in 2001, ISO 14001 certification - audited every three years - is now the standard governing operations at all Renault Trucks production plants in France: Bourg-en-Bresse, Blainville-sur-Orne, Limoges and Lyon. This international standard requires the setting up of an environmental management system (SME) as well as a clearly stated environmental policy and the objectives to go with it. Renault Trucks also has strict environmental requirements which must be complied with at its 1,500 sales and service outlets located in more than 100 countries.
In order to limit the impact its activities have on society, Renault Trucks reduced its energy consumption per vehicle produced by 50% and also cut its CO2 emissions by 35% between 2003 and 2008. To achieve these results, which are only a first step, the manufacturer introduced an ambitious policy of site renovation, while at the same time increasing its buildings' energy efficiency by improved insulation and the use of new technologies such as photovoltaic panels at Saint Priest and Bourg-on-Bresse. It also deployed heat pumps, new, more cost efficient boilers and installed a solar water heater at the Vénissieux company restaurant.
In 2010, Renault Trucks also signed a contract with GDF-Suez concerning the supply of electricity to its sites. Under the terms of this agreement, all the electricity supplied to its Bourg-en-Bresse plant comes from renewable sources, as well as 25% of that supplied to the manufacturer's other sites in France. An undertaking made possible since this concerns energy produced by the hydroelectric generating stations operated by the Compagnie Nationale du Rhône.
As for the trucks themselves, not only have the "Euro" standards significantly reduced polluting emissions over the last 20 years, but in the last 40 years, truck fuel consumption has been halved. Right now, Renault Trucks is the manufacturer offering the vehicle with the lowest consumption on the market (Renault Premium Long Distance). With its Optifuel solutions, the manufacturer also offers a whole range of easy-to-implement tools which deliver appreciable savings in consumption as well as limiting CO2 emissions by an equivalent amount.
At the same time, the manufacturer has been developing a broad range of vehicles using alternative energies under the Clean Tech label. These include trucks running on CNG -Compressed Natural Gas (Renault Premium Distribution), all-electric trucks (Renault Maxity), as well as hybrid vehicles (Renault Premium Distribution Hybrys Tech).
Sustainable development, a societal and social challenge
Renault Trucks' determined efforts to reduce the impact its vehicles have on the environment are only one facet of its sustainable development policy. They also reflect an overall appraisal of its activity.
To reduce the nuisance caused by goods haulage, Renault Trucks recommends putting the right truck, with the right energy, in the right place. The best tool for long distances remains the high tonnage Diesel truck (one large truck pollutes less than 12 smaller ones) with fuel consumption kept as low as possible. For shorter distances, between warehouses and town centres for example, medium tonnage hybrid vehicles (to be launched in 2011) or CNG vehicles (already available) can be used. Finally, for deliveries in town centres, small all-electric trucks such as the Maxity electric (soon to become available) are ideal for covering the last few kilometres.
Furthermore, Renault Trucks is developing communicative trucks that can transmit and receive information to help them travel more efficiently (for example, giving them priority at traffic lights or establishing "green waves") and therefore limiting emissions. Actual nuisance which should however be compared with the infinite list of services provided by trucks. These include saving lives, bringing food, medicines and tools to where they are needed, not to mention cultural activities and also collecting waste or cleaning our cities. We should not lose sight of the fact that without goods transport our societies would not be able to function.
For a company, sustainable development also involves taking into consideration the well-being of its major players - the workforce. On this point, Renault Trucks is keen to implement a just and motivating social policy which goes far beyond regulatory requirements. For example, the company has set up profit-sharing schemes for its staff, skills improvement programs to help further every employee's career path and signed several social dialogue modernisation agreements. It has in fact been a groundbreaker in a number of such fields.
In 2005, its CEO launched an ambitious workplace health and safety policy and signed the diversity charter designed to encourage pluralism and mixed recruitment. In 2007, the company was one of the first to create a department dedicated to well-being in the workplace which, in particular, led to the opening of a company crèche and a concierge service. In 2008, this same department set up a Stress Observatory which was followed by an extensive plan to raise managers' awareness of this issue and train them to deal with it. In 2010, Renault Trucks signed the parenthood charter, committing to encourage a better reconciliation between private lives and professional commitments.
As far as the place of women in the workplace is concerned, the plan to reduce the difference in salary between men and women has benefited 35% of the female workforce. Renault Trucks has also made efforts to help young people enter the job market by welcoming 400 apprentices and trainees on sandwich courses. In addition, in 2010, it signed its 7th Handi' Accord for three years, reasserting its determination to be a "disability friendly" company. Last but not least, the company has been a member of the United Nations Global Compact since 2004, whereby signatory companies undertake to fight corruption and respect human rights, working standards and the environment.
Sustainable development, an economic challenge
Finally, we must not lose sight of the fact that a sustainable development policy can only be meaningful if it includes a long-term commitment to economic development. Renault Trucks is therefore dedicated to providing its customers with vehicles that are constantly being improved so that their companies can be more profitable. But at the same time, the manufacturer must also ensure its own long-term future and development.
This is why, since 2009, many investments have been made at the company's production plants in France: €70 million in 2009 on two new production lines at Blainville-sur-Orne, almost €40 million in 2009 and 2010 for the assembly of next-generation engines and a new stamping plant at the Vénissieux site and €10.5 million in 2010 to set up the world's first HGV assembly line for future vehicles running on alternative energies at Bourg-en-Bresse. At the same time, every year Renault Trucks devotes between 4.5% and 6% of its turnover to investments in research and development.
Renault Trucks has chosen to pursue this vision of the future and sustainable development so that it can offer its customers, and the whole of society, transport solutions which are constantly improving in performance, while at the same time respecting the environment and the well-being of the workforce.