Assembly of Mitsubishis Outlander for Europe gets under way at NedCar in Born in this August 2008 file photo

Assembly of Mitsubishi's Outlander for Europe gets under way at NedCar in Born in this August 2008 file photo

Mitsubishi Motors' NedCar plant in Born, the Netherlands, appears doomed beyond the end of this year after the automaker said it "would not allocate a new model" for its subsidiary European production site from "2013 and beyond".

Netherlands Car BV, to give the one-time DAF car plant its full name, currently produces Colt and Outlander model for sale in Europe. A separate joint venture plant in Russia makes the Outlander and PSA's Peugeot and Citroen variants for that market.

After DAF, the plant became a Volvo operation making cars like the 300 series and the S/V40 lines through the 1980s. A three-way joint venture was formed in 1991 between MMC, Volvo, and the Dutch government. MMC became the sole shareholder when it bought all remaining shares from its partners in March 2001.

NedCar produced MMC's Carisma - which shared its platform and some engines with the contemporary Volvo S/V40 line - from 1995, then the Space Star. Currently it produces the European-market Colt and Outlander. Daimler's Smart ForFour hatchback was also built there for its short life, sharing its platform and some engines and suspension parts with Mitsubishi's Colt.

Local parts procurement today is 85% for the Colt and 20% for the Outlander.

When the partnership with Daimler ended, a number of pundits suggested the plant was doomed in the long-term unless MMC could get additional volume into it; current thinking is a manufacturing plant needs at least 100,000 units a year to be viable. NedCar can build 150,000 but is currently only running at a third of capacity.

In December 2010, MMC decided to stop NedCar production at the end of 2012 - it has a new model known internally as the 'New Small Car' waiting in the wings and plenty of capacity in Japan and, notably, lower-cost Thailand, to build it for global supply.

"[C]KD production of Outlander [from kits shipped from Japan] will be maintained until the end of 2012 but whether a replacement model to be allocated for production from 2013 and beyond or not is yet to be determined," MMC said at the time.

It added it would "further examine measures which would enable production operation at NedCar to continue from 2013 and beyond".

Today (Monday 6 February) MMC said it had, together with NedCar management, the labour union, works council, and Dutch government, since continued to look at options to keep the factory going.

"However, due to the wildly fluctuating operating environment which automobile manufacturers currently face, MMC could not come up with a reasonable solution to utilise NedCar among MMC's global production operation structure and thus MMC has concluded it is not viable to allocate a new production model at NedCar," the automaker said.

"Europe is and will continue to be an important market for MMC and production and delivery of models for Europe from Japan and Thailand will continue; thus MMC's model mix and after-service structure will not change at all.

"The status of NedCar from 2013 and beyond is yet to be decided, and talks among those concerned are to commence from hereon."

The plant currently employs 1,500 people and has built 1.1m Mitsubishi vehicles to date.

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