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Mitsubishi Puts Dutch Auto Plant on Sale for One Euro

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While the auto industry in America has recovered impressively from the lows of the financial crisis three years ago, with Chrysler even putting out a celebratory Super Bowl ad, it’s an entirely different story in Europe.
The European car is about 20% to 30% over capacity, and demand is expected to contract further by about 5% this year. General Motors (GM) is considering closing a number of plants in the region as it readies the disclosure of “horrendous” fourth quarter losses from its Opel/Vauxhall unit, while Sweden’s Saab Auto already filed for bankruptcy last December.
Also announcing the closure of its European operations is Japan’s fourth largest automaker, Mitsubishi Motors (MSBHY.PK), which will cease output at its plant in Born, Netherlands.
The plant, which has a production capacity of 200,000 units a year, produces the Colt compact and the Outlander sport-utility vehicle. However, a mere 47,000 cars were rolled out in 2010, resulting in a massive operating loss for Mitsubishi.
“Due to the wildly fluctuating operating environment which automobile manufacturers currently face, MMC could not come up with a reasonable solution to utilize NedCar,” the company said in a statement, reported Businessweek. “MMC has concluded it is not viable to allocate a new production model at NedCar.”
At stake for the Netherlands is the 1,500 jobs that the plant currently supports. Mitsubishi, however, in perhaps a show of corporate compassion, has said that it will work with the Dutch government to see how the plant could continue operating, perhaps through a sale to a third party. And if the 1,500 jobs can be saved, the company is more than happy to sell the plant for just about nothing.
“If the payroll of about 1,500 factory workers can be maintained, we may as well sell the assets for one euro,” said a Mitsubishi spokesperson, according to Economy Watch.
Yes, for those of you with a euro to spare and a need for 1,500 workers, this factory in the sleepy town of Born, Netherlands, could be yours.

Meanwhile, Mitsubishi, perhaps having earned some positive karma for its generous €1 offer, topped the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s (or ACEEE) annual green car list with its electric Mitsubishi i-MIEV, toppling the CNG-powered Honda (HMC) Civic, which had been No. 1 for the previous eight years.

(See also: Chrysler's Clint Eastwood Super Bowl Ad Wipes Out Union Images)
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.