Renault Group

From Megane Scenic to Scenic E-Tech electric, five generations born in Douai

20 March 2024
Industry & qualityPeople

The fifth-generation Scenic E-Tech electric, due to go on sale shortly, is produced in Douai France, the site where it was born in 1996. Who better to talk about the evolution of this iconic model and the plant where it is made than Franck Lucas, Unit Manager, who is celebrating 41 years of service at the site this year. Franck has been involved in the production of every generation of Scenic since its inception and has witnessed the technological advances from one iteration to the next, as well as the improvements made to workstations and manufacturing methods within the plant. Let Franck tell you about the evolution of one of Renault's French industrial flagships, where its team spirit remains as intact as it was in the early days.

BY Renault Group

When Franck Lucas began his career in Douai in 1982, he worked as an assembly operator in the workshop preparing dashboards for the Renault 11. After progressing through several positions, he was present for the arrival of the Megane, the new compact model that replaced the Renault 19. The following year, in 1996, a variant of Megane was launched, called 'Megane Scenic', which became Europe's first compact MPV. The name comes from the 1991 compact concept car called S.C.E.N.I.C., which stands for "Safety Concept Embodied in a New Innovative Car". The first-generation Scenic was an immediate success, selling almost 2.8 million units. As proof of its success, it won the prestigious “European Car of the Year” award in 1997, a feat that Scenic E-Tech electric repeated 27 years later by becoming Car of the Year” 2024.

Franck Lucas, chef d’unité, Manufacture Ampere ElectriCity de Douai

I've been lucky enough to know all five generations of the Scenic. It's no longer the same car, but it still has the same spirit. What an evolution!

Franck Lucas
Unit Manager, Douai Ampere ElectriCity Manufacture

Scenic and Douai, a shared evolution

Franck still remembers the first Scenic parts he worked on, the doors. He immediately realised that Renault had made a giant leap forward with this new model, with a spacious interior that was totally innovative for the time. As such, the Douai site itself had to evolve to match the ambitions of the model. In addition to the installation of new robots, all the operating methods were redesigned, particularly the ergonomics of the workstation which allows greater freedom of movement for the operators. For the arrival of the second generation of Scenic in 2003, further improvements were made, such as the semi-automation of the cockpit installation, which reduced the physical load required to fit it. In 2009, the third generation, which dropped the Megane name to become a model in its own right, saw the arrival of swing assembly lines, where vehicles could be raised and lowered to suit assembly operations, a fantastic innovation for operators. The fourth generation made its appearance in 2016, and with it the digitalisation of production lines. Vehicles and parts are now permanently connected to the factory, enabling much better monitoring of the supply chain.

Renault Scenic on the production line

Scenic E-Tech electric, a radical evolution

The most radical change came with this fifth generation. Scenic becomes a 100% electric model, designed on a dedicated AmpR Medium platform. The historic Douai plant is being transformed to accommodate this new electric platform, which required an investment of €550 million. A new, flexible assembly line accommodates up to 4 platforms for the construction of a wide range of vehicles. Workstations have been reorganised to ensure maximum flexibility, and the assembly line has been rebuilt to integrate battery installation into the flow. This transformation has also enabled a number of changes to be made to the workstations, including the introduction of 'full kitting', which means that the operators can have all the necessary parts within easy reach.

According to Franck, there are two things that don't seem to have changed: the concern for safety, a real leitmotiv at the factory, and the camaraderie within the teams, which he describes as a family, with a lot of solidarity between operators. It was the desire to see this state of mind, which enables Douai to proudly state its vehicles are Made in France, that prompted Franck to move on to the next part of his career.

Renault Scénic E-Tech electric
Renault Scénic E-Tech electric

Training, a means of transmission

Today, thanks to his experience, Franck is in charge of the dexterity school. "I've been able to grow from operator to unit manager, holding a number of positions in the various manufacturing departments before becoming a trainer," he says.  He trains all new arrivals, as well as senior operators, and runs static and dynamic training sessions to help them master the movements, cadence and precision needed to be operational on the assembly line. He always instils the same spirit of camaraderie that he himself discovered when he started out in Douai 40 years ago. With the arrival of the Megane and Scenic E-Tech electric, and soon the Renault 5 E-Tech electric, a new era is taking shape. Franck encourages his apprentices to go beyond what they learn with him, convinced that progress remains the best guarantee of the site's long-term future.