The fate of the VDL Nedcar plant is being decided: Canoo no longer needs it, but Rivian can buy
Founded in 1968, the company in the Dutch town of Bor (Limburg) has changed owners several times and is now undergoing a major transformation: it plans to expand its production capacity and refurbish its electric car factory. But who and what will produce “electric trains" here is still unclear – at the moment, the American startup Rivian is considered the best candidate.
The Born plant was built by the Dutch company DAF, which mass-produced passenger cars in the 1960s and was the first to introduce continuously variable transmissions (V-belt drives). The DAF 44 family of cars was registered at the new production site. Their production was curtailed in 1974, and in 1975 DAF sold the plant in Born to the Swedish company Volvo.
The plant received the name Nedcar in 1992 after Mitsubishi Motors acquired its share, in 1995 the production of platform Volvo S40 / V40 and Mitsubishi Carisma began here, in 1998 they were joined by the Mitsubishi Space Star compact van – these cars were once very popular lately.
In 2001, Volvo sold its stake in the Dutch company Mitsubishi Motors, and then found a new partner in the face of DaimlerChrysler: in 2004, smart forfour cars began to roll off the conveyor of the Born plant, but failed on the market conveyor, and already in 2006, the release was collapsed. The intellectuals were replaced by the Mitsubishi Colt microvan; In 2008, Nedcar dominated the production of Mitsubishi Outlander crossovers.
At the end of 2012, Mitsubishi Motors sells Nedcar to the Dutch industrial company VDL Groep, the plant is renamed VDL Nedcar, after which it switches to contract assembly of BMW and Mini cars. VDL Nedcar currently produces the Mini Countryman, BMW X1 and Mini Cabrio convertible crossovers, but the contract with BMW expires in 2023 and the German company is unwilling to renew it.
Over the past two years, the management of VDL Groep has been actively looking for new customers for the Born plant, and in 2019 it announced its intention to increase the plant’s capacity from 230,000 to 400,000 vehicles per year, for which it is necessary to build a new building, and for this it is necessary to cut down the adjacent forest area, which is very undesirable for local environmentalists – the necessary permits for the start of construction have not yet been received.
The new building, apparently built with an eye on electric vehicles, is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2024, after which the current main building will be closed for renovations, which should be completed by the end of 2025, when it can be noted as a complete renovation.
Those plans may not come to fruition given that VDL Nedcar is currently in limbo, meaning it’s not clear what it will be producing after 2023.
Minivan Canoo Lifestyle Car
This summer, we reported that the American electric vehicle startup Canoo wants to build its minivans at VDL Nedcar, and a pilot batch of 1,000 vehicles is planned to be assembled as early as 2022, and by 2023 the plan included 15,000 vehicles. In 2024, the problem may worsen and live happily until 2028 (the estimated end date of the contract), but in mid-November it was discovered that Canoo considers the Dutch site a reserve, and in recent reports from a startup for the American stock VDL, Nedcar no longer appears at all .
Recall that Canoo will have its own plant in the United States, in the MidAmerica Industrial Park in Oklahoma, which is scheduled to launch in 2023. Dutch media speculate that Canoo’s refusal to cooperate with VDL Nedcar may be due to hacker attacks on the plant in October, which paralyzed its work.
Head office of VDL Groep
This week, Western media, including the German magazine auto motor und sport, reported that VDL Groep is in talks with another American startup, Rivian, which launched an R1T electric pickup truck at its plant in Normal, Illinois, in September, curiously, earlier this the site was also owned by Mitsubishi Motors), and a year ago, Rivian announced plans to enter the Chinese and European markets with compact models.
VDL Nedcar is a good option for locating production in Europe, the media are reporting the possibility of buying a Dutch plant from an American startup, but Rivian is unlikely to want to invest its money in reorganizing and expanding the plant. Perhaps the young American company will be able to provide financial support to the Dutch government, which, of course, does not really want the promising facility to “collapse” without customers and tens of thousands of people (including subsidiaries) be left without work. In general, the negotiations will be difficult, let’s see how they end. So far, the future of VDL Nedcar has not been determined.