A day after Mitsubishi Motors said it was shutting down production in Europe after four years of declining sales and heavy losses in the last quarter of 2011, the company offered on Tuesday to sell its factory, NedCar BV in Holland, to anyone who will take it off their hands for just one Euro.
“They’re going to have a hard time with this one,” says Mylou Van Bentum, who formerly ran a model and prop manufacturing company for TV production in Amsterdam. “Even in something like my line of work, which was very artistic, it was almost impossible to lay off or fire a worker. I can just imagine how hard it is in an industrial situation where the unions are involved.”
Workers blocked the entrance to the factory and had gone on strike. The Dutch Broadcaster Nos One reported one employee saying, “We won’t go like lambs to slaughter.”
Union leaders, who called a strike against the closure, said that shutting down the plant would be a “disaster” for the southern part of Holland where Mitsubishi’s sole European manufacturing unit NedCar BV is located. They also called for political action.
There is some small hope of selling the plant to Citroen, who manufactured a model there, too, but according to Dutch observers of the European car industry, “Worldwide, automobile manufacturing suffers from between 20 percent to 30 percent over capacity. Europe is no different, and it’s doubtful if Citroen is interested.”
The political situation in Europe, particularly during the current Euro crisis, makes it difficult and expensive to end automobile production at any factory in the EC. Not only is Mitsubishi Motors looking forward in 2012 to a fifth year of declining sales in the European market, but it is now also facing a contentious and possibly drawn out and expensive process to close down its European car production in the Netherlands.