The problems for Mitsubishi and its Dutch factory, NedCar, began with that common bogeyman, the Smart ForFour. At the end of ForFour production, there was no vehicle in the pipeline for Mitsubishi or then-partner DaimlerChrysler that could be built in the Dutch factory and put its 180,000 cars-per-year capacity to use. Now that the European economy is teetering on the edge of implosion, Mitsubishi is pulling its Colt and Outlander models from Born and putting the plant up for sale. The latest production figures report that NedCar is building just 50,000 cars per year, and since Mitsubishi has a factory under construction in Thailand, located closer to more robust emerging markets, it makes more sense to move where the food is. NedCar workers are naturally unhappy, with about 1,000 recently protesting the decision to move production.

The plant, which started life in the 1960s building both the DAF 44 and 55, was partly underwritten by the government of Holland to provide employment to a regional workforce that had lost a lot of jobs when the mines in Limburg closed. Volvo bought DAF and kept the plant busy with the 66 and 343 through the 1980s. Mitsubishi and the Dutch Government joined Volvo as joint stakeholders in the plant in 1991 as a way to keep it humming at capacity, since Volvo could only manage 120,000 cars per year on its own. Ten years later, Mitsubishi bought out the other two-thirds of the plant and now the Outlander and Colt are going to be out by December 2012.

You can pick up the NedCar facility for a mere dollar, but Mitsubishi Motors President Osamu Masuko will want to see your plan for the 1,500 workers before selling the factory so cheaply. All hope is not lost for the workforce just yet, there are rumors of a potential new owner looking to swoop in and start building a new car in the plant by 2015, creating about 800 jobs in the process. The logical money is on that automaker being Volvo, though Gothenburg has been mum so far.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      Volvo built the 1st gen S40 there, so that would make sense.
      Avinash Machado
      • 3 Years Ago
      I guess they might exit the American market in the near future as well.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Dan Roth, you're obviously not an economist. The so-called European economy is not about to implode, even if there was such a thing as a "European" economy! You would obviously be surprised to learn that Europe is *not* a country, and that many European countries are doing great! Especially Germany, which exports more cars than the US even now! Never mind Sweden and other Northern European countries with booming economies!
        • 3 Years Ago
        Oh, and even if the Euro currency did collapse it would not actually result in the "European" economy collapsing. The healthy economies would continue, Greece would get a fresh start. It would result in a split Europe (rich/poor), and the effects would impact the US economy heavily! Careful what you ask for... The Euro currency by the way is only used by 18 out of 50 European countries. All the other Europeans have their own currencies from British Pounds to Russian Rubles.
      • 3 Years Ago
      '... Mitsubishi has a factory under construction in Thailand, located closer to more robust emerging markets.' And cheaper labor, of course.
      • 3 Years Ago
      If someone's going to buy that plant, I'm guessing it will be one of the emerging Chinese brands. The likely choices would be SAIC, perhaps to bring MG to the continent because Longbridge's capacity might not be enough to cover all of Europe; and Great Wall, which seems to be the more aggresive of the Chinese brands.

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