Renault Cleon. Engines and gearboxes manufactured at the Normandy factory

The Cléon plant in Normandy earned its nickname for the famous four-cylinder “cléon-fonte” used by Renault for thirty-six years. But many other engines were packed in there, including electric motors and gearboxes. Let’s take a look at the history of this factory, which was established in 1958.

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Since 1958, the Cléon plant has been producing gearboxes and later engines for Renault. Argus returns to the rich history of this industrial site in Normandy.


Some engines have fallen into history. This is the work of the famous “cleon-fonte”. Appearing in the Renault Florida in 1962, this four-cylinder petrol engine was still used by the Twingo 1 until 1996. In Eastern Europe, the evolution of this mechanism even continued until 2006 in the 1307 pickup, derived from the R12. This block gets its nickname from the material used to make it and the factory where it was first assembled. Indeed, it is in Cleon, Seine-Maritime, where production began in 1960. This C engine, or Sierra engine (as they were officially called internally), was not the first unit to roll out of the Normandy plant opened by Renault in 1958.

A box and two motors to start

It all started with Dauphine and 4CV gearboxes. The famous Cléon-Fonte therefore arrived in the new building created to house him just two years later. It has undergone many evolutions and revived countless models. Including legendary sports such as the first Alpine A110, R8 Gordini or R5 Turbo. Some sources indicate that more than 27 million units were produced during its endless career.

Unfortunately, Renault could not confirm this rather impressive figure, which seems to include production carried out elsewhere. From 1965, this cast iron block had to live with the A engine. A letter specifying the transition to aluminum for greater lightness. This new in-line four-cylinder appeared in the Renault 16 family and lasted until 1986. Despite the more expensive design that limited its distribution, more than 3.2 million units of this “cleon-aluminum” were produced.

1981: The big family of F engines arrived

After that, we would have to wait until 1981 to see something new arrive at the Normandy factory. The first J-type gearboxes, equipped with five gears and more than 21 million units produced by 2017, landed practically at the same time as the new family of engines bearing the letter F. The latter conventionally begins with gasoline with F2N, 2 is synonymous with carburetor, and N determines the cubic capacity. This “big” 1.7 Super 5 will underpin the Cléon-fonte in the R11 and R19 before powering the R19, R21, Clio 1 and various Volvos. But the F8M diesel on the same cylinder head processing line will see the light of day very soon. A first for Kléon, who does not yet know how important this type of engine will be in the future. At first, only the R9 and R11 duo benefited from this naturally aspirated 1.6 before coming to the Super 5.

Produced exclusively at the Normandy factory, this F-family will be extremely versatile and will last until 2021 for the needs of certain markets. In total, it will be produced more than 14.5 million units. What we found in the Megane 3 RS between 2010 and 2016 is still the same. with a late-career turbo and 275 hp. It would also spawn Renault’s first 16-valve engine, the F7P, used by the R19 16S from 1990. Megane 1 in 1997.

1994-2015: the reign of diesel

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Renault Cleon.  Engines and gearboxes manufactured at the Normandy factory

The P or PK family of manual gearboxes appeared in 1991 and continues to be produced.


From 1996, Cléon welcomed another engine family in parallel, this time only diesel-powered and carrying the letter G. It started with the 2.2 turbodiesel introduced in the Laguna 1. A little earlier, in 1991, P manual gearboxes were launched on the site. , with five or six speeds depending on the application. An operation that continues today, with production now approaching 8 million passes. Diesel sales peaked in the early 2000s. Like many others at the time, Renault had no other eyes than him.

The M9R, the first engine developed in cooperation with Nissan, opts for this fuel. It was launched in 2005 and you probably know it better as the 2.0 dCi. Cléon’s first V6, the V9X, is also allergic to petrol. This 3.0 dCi will be found in the Espace 4 or Laguna 3, as well as some Infiniti, Nissan’s “premium” brand imported to Europe for a short time. Even Mercedes will use it for the ephemeral X-Class pickup, a cousin of the Renault Alaskan and Nissan Navara. However, the latest of the factory heat engines will remain the four-cylinder, the R9M, the 1.6 dCi launched in the Megane and Scénic 3 in 2011. It will develop up to 190 horsepower in its biturbo versions.

From 2015: electric is gaining momentum

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Renault Cleon.  Engines and gearboxes manufactured at the Normandy factory

Since 2015, Cléon has been producing electric motors, thus securing its long-term future.


In 2015, the dieselgate scandal, caused by Volkswagen cheating on pollutant emissions, brought an abrupt end to this craze for diesel. Fortunately, it was in that year that Cléon sped up the conversion that began producing the Zoe’s 5AX electric motor. The latter can claim to be the first of its kind to save expensive rare earths by replacing the traditional magnet with a wound rotor. The technology that powers the electric Mégane E-Tech from 2022 and is also used today in the 220 hp 6AM unit “Made in Normandy”.

Other important components such as inverters and current transformers are manufactured at the same site. Just like the 5DH electric motor used in Losange hybrids. Even if the focus is mostly on Douai and Maubeuge, where Renault’s ElectriCity division will join the future R5 and R4, the Cléon is an important part of Renault’s electrification strategy. This does not prevent it from continuing mass production of heating blocks and manual gearboxes, its historical activity will continue for some time.

Engines and gearboxes produced at Cléon since 1958 (July 2022)

Heat engines

Engine family Years of production Number of engines produced
Engine C (“cast iron”) 1958-1996 Unknown*
Engine A (“cleon-alu”) 1965-1986 3.24 million
F engine (gasoline and diesel) 1981-2022 14,534 mln
G-engine (diesel) 1996-2012 1.865 million
V-engine (diesel) 2008-2016 55,500
R engine (diesel) since 2011 2,536 million
M engine (diesel) since 2005 4,383 mln

* Some sources say more than 27 million, but Renault could not confirm this figure. It also appears to cover C engines produced elsewhere than Cléon.

electric motors

Box family Years of production Number of boxes produced
Dauphine/4CV gearboxes 1958 c no
J gearboxes (5 gears) 1981-2017 21,240 million
P gearboxes (5 or 6 gears) Since 1991 7,952 million

Electronic components for electric vehicles

Component family Years of production Number of components produced
Junction box 2012-2020 49,000
Direct current converter box (DC box) from 2019 92,900
Inverter (PEB) from 2020 382,000


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