Japanese car maker Mitsubishi will step up efforts to find a buyer for its sole western European plant where production is set to cease by year-end, the Dutch Economics Ministry said Wednesday.
The company announced in Tokyo this month it was planning to halt production at the Nedcar plant in Born, southern Netherlands, by the end of 2012, blaming a difficult operating environment in the debt-hit continent.
"Mitsubishi has promised, together with Nedcar and the (Dutch) Ministry of Economic Affairs to intensify the search for a buyer over the next three months," the ministry said in a statement.
This followed a meeting between Dutch Economic Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen and Mitsubishi's chief executive Osamu Masuko in Tokyo earlier Wednesday to discuss the future of the plant and its 1,500 employees.
Masuko told Verhagen that "Mitsubishi will honour all agreements made on a social plan for Nedcar staff should recovery appear to be impossible," the ministry added.
Labour unions demanded Mitsubishi work with the Dutch government to find a buyer after Masuko said he was willing to sell the plant for "one euro" if a new owner could guarantee workers would remain employed.
Workers staged a one-day strike at the plant, located about 180 kilometres (110 miles) southeast of Amsterdam, on February 10 in which they aired demands including finding a proper social plan should no buyer be found.
The Japanese carmaker produces the Colt subcompact and the Outlander sports utility models at the wholly-owned unit, which used to be a joint venture with Sweden's Volvo.
Output at NedCar, which was established in 1991, has remained sharply below its annual production capacity of 200,000 units, contributing to Mitsubishi Motors' operating loss in Europe, reports said.
Fewer than 50,000 cars were assembled in 2010.