As we all wait with baited breath for certain events to play out in Greece, I thought it would be fun to have a look at some developments in the manufacturing sector in the Netherlands. I also got a kick out of all the stuff posted yesterday on the Chevy Volt.
Mitsubishi is pulling out of Colt and Smart Forfour manufacturing in Born, Limburg, and is looking to sell its assets there. Wikipedia gives some background on Nedcar for those who are interested.
There is a proud tradition of vehicle manufacturing in the Netherlands which is a bit difficult to sum up briefly here. But I would like to mention the fact that it all began back in the late 1920's in Eindhoven by a couple of enterprising brothers, Hub and Wim Van Doorne. The brand it is mostly associated with is DAF, which stood for Van Doorne's Aanhangwagen Fabriek. The quirky Daffodil passenger cars are still remembered fondly by a few here in the Netherlands. They included innovative technology such as the unique Variomatic transmission in the sixties. DAF trucks are still produced by parent PACCAR just outside the city. Parts such as axles are shipped in from Belgium and so on.
The plant in Born was initially set up, among other things, to absorb laid off mine workers in the declining coal industry in Limburg. A variety of cars have been produced there, with Volvo playing a big role from the early seventies until Mitsubishi took over fully by 2001. We are looking at a plant that at one time could assemble at least 200 000 vehicles a year.
Nissan is interested in some of the pieces and says it could build parts in Born. Final assembly would happen elsewhere. A Swiss company, Q-PM, is reportedly also interested and says all 1500 workers would be able to keep their jobs. They would produce Wankel engines in Born which would be shipped as far away as the US. There are other parties interested, including one in China and one in Europe, that have also shown interest but not much is known about any plans there yet.