Indeed, French government ministers have been involved in encouraging more automotive companies to take advantage of the Tangier-Med infrastructure and invest in the area. Morocco’s minister of industry, Moulay Hafid Elalamy, said earlier this year that he expects the country to be producing one million vehicles – with 80% of components locally produced – by 2020. Today, it produces 650,000 units.
The Renault-Nissan Tangier facility is arranged over 300 hectares and has an annual capacity of 340,000 vehicles, running six days a week with a staff of 8000 people. It builds four Dacia models: the Logan MCV, Lodgy, Sandero and Dokker. The millionth Tangier car rolled off the line in mid-July. The completed Dacias are transported by the new rail line directly to the dockside, from where they are shipped around the world.
But the real achievement of the Tangier plant is its energy efficiency. More than 90% of its power needs come from renewable sources – and this is not an assembly operation. The body panels are pressed from rolls of steel and welded and painted on site.
The hillsides around the factory are dotted with wind turbines. When at full capacity, it’s estimated they produce 10 times the amount of electricity needed by the plant. But as well as electrical energy for robots, welding, lighting and so on, the factory needs thermal energy sources, especially for the paint shop.
The factory’s biomass heating plant has three boilers and a total output of 18MW. These send out water at various temperatures, including high-pressure super-heated water for the paint ovens and hot water for the paint booth and conditioners.
Providing water in this way is energy intensive, so coming up with a renewable method required a solution described as “unique in the automotive industry”. The biomass plant burns olive stones (from Morocco’s massive olive oil industry) and wood from the pallets used in the delivery of components.