VDL to hold talks with BMW and Mitsubishi over NedCar acquisition

Article by Anita Panait, on July 11, 2012

Dutch bus maker VDL Group is planning to hold talks with BMW and Mitsubishi over plans to acquire the Japanese car manufacturer’s NedCar site in the Netherlands with intentions to produce vehicles for German carmaker’s Mini brand. Mitsubishi divulged that it would sell NedCar to VDL for just EUR1 ($1.23) if the Dutch bus maker would retain the plant’s 1,500 employees.

Mitsubishi said it expects to lose around JPY28 billion ($352.33 million) on the deal, which could be completed by the end of December 2012. VDL spokeswoman Carolien van der Leegt told Automotive News Europe that the bus maker had already reached an agreement with NedCar’s union and is proceeding to negotiate with Mitsubishi and BMW on the terms for the takeover.

She said that although things are going well, nothing is definitive yet. BMW is considering having its Mini brand manufactured in NedCar due to the plant’s proximity to Mini’s factory in the United Kingdom, offering substantial benefits in terms of logistics, according to Harald Krueger, BMW's board member who is responsible for Mini.VDL plans to acquire NedCar from Mitsubishi and act as a subcontractor to BMW.

Mitsubishi, on the other hand, plans to terminate the production of its Colt subcompact and Outlander sports utility vehicle at the plant at the end of 2012. The Dutch media, citing union sources, reported that VDL will reopen NedCar in late 2014 or early 2015. NedCar was the result of a three-way venture between Mitsubishi, Volvo and the Dutch government.

Mitsubishi became NedCar’s sole owner in 2001 after buying out its partners. NedCar accounted for less than 5 percent of Mitsubishi’s global output of 1.1 million vehicles in the year to March 31, 2012. NedCar's annual production had dropped to 50,000 vehicles compared with a peak capacity of 200,000.

Last month, BMW denied a newspaper report that it plans to produce cars at the NedCar site in the Netherlands. Local daily Dagblad De Limburger had reported that Mini and BMW-branded vehicles would be produced at the NedCar site as early as 2014. According to the paper, VDL Groep and Mitsubishi are holding talks to produce cars for the BMW Group at the site.

The newspaper also reported that the NedCar site was visited by BMW managers, who were not inclined in acquiring the site. However, these managers expressed interests in having VDL build cars for them.

In February, Mitsubishi announced plans to end production of its Outlander SUV and Mitsubishi Colt subcompact models at the NedCar plant by the end of the year. After the announcement, there were speculations that BMW was interested in acquiring the site and its 1,500 employees to build the Mini brand.

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Topics: bmw, mitsubishi

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