Japanese carmaker Mitsubishi Motors has announced it will sell its sole European production facility in the Netherlands for a token fee of one euro. But the buyer has to keep most former workers in employment.
Mitsubishi Motors of Japan said on Wednesday it would get rid of its sole European plant for a symbolic price of just one euro ($1.20). The carmaker had earlier announced it would turn its back on the continent by the end of 2012 because of the ongoing debt crisis.
Mitsubishi said it would sell NedCar in the Netherlands where it had been producing its Colt subcompact and the Outlander sports utility models. But output at the Dutch facility has remained sharply below its annual production capacity of late, with only little over 40,000 units produced in 2011. In 1999 NedCar rolled out 250,000 units.
The token price of one euro sounds like a good bargain, but Mitsubishi said there were strings attached to the deal. The Japanese automaker made it clear that the buyer would have to keep all the facility's 1,500 employees.
"Mitsubishi has carried out discussions with related parties to explore the possibility of the future continuation of NedCar while making it a top priority to assure the employment of its workers," the company said in a statement.
Mini-price, Mini cars
Mitsubishi's announcement came as the Dutch company VDL Groep confirmed it was in talks with German luxury carmaker BMW to produce Minis at the plant in Born some 180 kilometers (110 miles) southeast of Amsterdam.
"We have put forward our intention to produce Minis here," VDL Spokesperson Carolien van der Leegte said. "We hope that BMW becomes our first client as we want to manufacture cars for them."
Van der Leegte added inking the deal could still take several weeks. She confirmed that workers would remain on the pay roll during conversion which could take up to two years.