Struggling French carmaker Renault will look to cut 15,000 jobs around the globe as it tries to survive a slump in sales.

The company is to start talks with unions in France today, where one third of the headcount will be reduced.

Renault employs more than 179,000 people in 39 countries, including a large workforce in the UK.

Even before the pandemic, the firm was in trouble, with sales down 3% last year. It said last month the number of vehicles sold dropped by 25% in the first three months of the year and plunged even more dramatically in April.

In total Renault is aiming to make €2 billion in savings over the next three years, including shutting factories.

Six sites in all will be under review. Flins, close to Paris, where it makes its electric Zoe models, could cease to assemble cars and centre on recycling activities instead

The firm is heading for a fight with the French government which holds a 15% stake in the company. Renault is in discussions about a €5 billion emergency loan package but President Macron has told the company to keep workers and production in the country.

The car industry has undergone a torrid time since the coronavirus pandemic forced countries into lockdown.

In the UK car production fell to its lowest level since the Second World War in April amid plant closures because of the coronavirus crisis.

Stats from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show production was down by 99.7% compared with April last year, with just 197 models leaving factory gates in the month.