Japan’s fourth largest automobile maker, Mitsubishi Motors, has said that would sell its Netherlands plant in Born ‘for one euro’ provided all 1,500 workers keep their jobs.
The sale, which the company said would be completed by the end of 2012, would be the end of Mitsubishi’s manufacturing operations in Europe.
According to Mitubishi, tough operating conditions and the continent’s debt crisis were the key factors considered in the decision to pull the plug.
The company said in a statement:
Mitsubishi’s involvement with NedCar, the Dutch automobile manufacturing company, began in 1991 when the company bought a stake in the joint venture between Sweden’s Volvo and the Dutch government. In 2001, the Japanese government gained full control of the facility in Born, Netherlands.
According to reports, NedCar has a production capacity of 200,000 units a year. Yet, only 47,000 cars were assembled in the 2010 financial year, adding to Mitsubishi’s operating loss in Europe. NedCar is one of the last auto-production facilities in the eurozone's fifth-largest economy.
Dutch trade unions have called the announcement “a disaster” for Born, which they say is already badly hit by high unemployment. Dutch Economics Minister Maxime Verhagen called the decision “an unbelievable blow”, with over a thousand jobs hanging in the balance.
However, Mitsubishi has said that it is open to discussions with the Dutch government and may consider selling the plant for a symbolic amount of €1 ($1.32).
A company spokesperson said:
The Dutch Economics Ministry confirmed the statement and said it will help look for a potential buyer for the plant.
On Monday, Mitsubishi said that Europe remains an important market for the company, adding that it would import supplies from Japan and Thailand to meet European demand.