At the Netherlands’ only car production plant in Born, VDL Nedcar, unions see the last gleam of hope vanish of starting up again in 2026, as the British Gordon Murray Automotive Group is pulling out the so-called L60 project. Details were never given, but it was assumed Nedcar would build two electric premium SUVs with a 300,000-euro price tag.
In July 2023, Dutch contract car manufacturer Nedcar said it had signed a new declaration of intent with a new non-disclosed client to assemble or build cars again in Born near the Belgian border from 2026. No names of potential new clients were given, but rumors stated this could be Chinese BYD or the group of British designer Gordon Murray, that builds exclusive sports cars today.
Designer of McLaren F1
Chinese BYD meanwhile decided to build a new factory in Hungary, where the company is already present with a bus manufacturing plant. So Nedcar’s last hope was based on working for exclusive sportscar designer Gordon Murray.
Murray made his name designing Formula 1 racing cars for Brabham and McLaren. For the latter, he created the iconic McLaren F1 high-performance road car. The SUV hypercars were a project for Nedcar, but CYVN Holdings from Abu Dhabi, which finances Murray’s project, have informed VDL they prefer to move production to another location, probably an NIO facility.
Moment of truth
January 17th was the moment of truth for 2,000 employees of Dutch contract builder VDL Nedcar in Born, as the company summoned everybody to show up and get to know the end day of their work. The employees were informed department by department and could get answers to their questions and moral support in a so-called ‘job center’.
At that time, VDL said only 474 would escape the hatchet, as it needed the in-house expertise to maintain the factory and restart it in 2026. Now, the unions fear even these 474 won’t escape the verdict.
End of BMW contract
The 2,000 people losing their jobs, among whom are many Belgian cross-border workers, come on top of the thousand interim workers and 500 permanent staff that have already left. The production workers will leave in March 2024 at the latest, when the contract with BMW to build the Mini and the X1 ends. There will be no extra jobs for them in VDL’s new Mobility Innovation Center.
VDL Nedcar struck a deal with… BMW and will assemble 125,000 battery packs in that center between 2024 and 2035. VDL CEO Willem van der Leegte saw this as ‘a flying start’ for its new branch where ‘sustainable mobility solutions’ are developed. Here, research is done into autonomous vehicles for German Schaeffler, among others.