To Palencia, north west of Madrid, to the Renault plant where the Megane is built.
I was accompanied by Patrick Pelata, chief operating officer of Renault, as he wanted to show how far the company had come in terms of quality.
I am not the only person who has had doubts about Renault’s quality and reliability, but Pelata was out to prove us wrong.
The factory visit was excellent and the dedication and skills by the workforce is as good as, if not better, than anything I have seen in any other car factory.
The amount of times the body is checked for perfect geometry is staggering – 44 times in just one assembly stage.
The laser welding is precise and results in a very accurate, rigid body that has very few faults that have to be rectified further down the line.
These proud people in Spain looked happy, want quality to be their main priority and want customers to have a good, reliable car.
They get to know about warranty claims, and are ashamed that their work is not 100% every time. They almost take it personally.
This plant produces around 260,000 cars per year, and export 92% of them, with each one built to the same exacting standard.
I went to Palencia thinking Renault’s build quality would be poor, but left with a completely different view.
It is a pity more people can’t see what we saw, and think again about the brand and its position in the market.
To PSA HQ in Velizy to look at the forthcoming Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4.
To be honest, there wasn’t much to look at.
All the clever technology is hidden away where you can’t see it.
The only giveaway is a dial near the auto-gearbox lever which can alter the car’s driving mode.
There is Sport for a quick get-away, Auto for normal driving, ZEV for electric power only and 4WD which uses the diesel engine to power the front wheels, combined with an electric motor to power the rear ones.
The Hybrid4 will be available later this year with CO2 emissions of less than 100g/km and more than 70mpg on the combined cycle.
Combine this with a high-quality car with good looks, excellent practicality and flexibility as well as loads of space, and Peugeot may just be on to a real winner.
Hybrid4 technology will also be available in the 508 and RCZ in 2012, which should be good news for company car drivers.