June 15, 2011 / 6:15 PM / in 8 years

Renault says battery plant project delayed

* Says won’t impact delivery of early electric vehicles

* Says construction will begin in 2012 2nd quarter

PARIS, June 15 (Reuters) - Renault’s (RENA.PA) plan to build a battery plant near Paris to supply forthcoming electric vehicles has been delayed, the French automaker said, confirming reports in French media.

The magazine L’Usine Nouvelle and the newspaper Les Echos had cited the CGT union as saying the factory — due to begin production late next year — would not be up and running until 2014 or 2015 because of technical constraints.

Renault instead will buy batteries from AESC, its partner Nissan Motor’s (7201.T) joint venture with NEC (6701.T), and from South Korea’s LG Chem (051910.KS), Les Echos said.

A Renault spokeswoman confirmed the project would be delayed but said it would not impact deliveries of early electric vehicles.

Renault is due to launch the Fluence, Kangoo and Twizy electric vehicles later this year and the Zoe in 2012.

Renault and Nissan are jointly investing 4 billion euros in a bid to lead the industry in electric vehicle technology.

The spokeswoman declined to say when battery production would begin at the site but said construction of the new plant would start in the second quarter of 2012.

Renault currently makes its popular Clio models in Flins and will produce the electric Zoe there too. (Reporting by Helen Beresford; editing by John Wallace)

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