Swedish airbag and seatbelt world leader Autoliv said on Dec. 21 it would close four plants in France, Germany, Mexico and Tunisia, entailing at least 820 job cuts, as part of a restructuring to combat an auto sector downturn.
"To consolidate and to adapt its production capacity to the current demand, Autoliv has decided to close plants in France, Germany, Mexico and Tunisia," the company said.
Autoliv said its seatbelt assembly plant in Tunisia would be closed and most of the production transferred to Autoliv Turkey, leading to some 650 job losses.
In Mexico, it has begun transferring its steering wheel assembly operations from its Queretaro location to the company's recently acquired facility in Matamoros. The employees affected will be offered the possibility to transfer to Matamoros or one of Autoliv's two other plants in Queretaro.
In January 2009, Autoliv acquired most of the assets in distressed French steel stamping supplier NPC to secure deliveries.
"Due to low demand and, at least partly, new technologies, this facility will be closed early next year," Autoliv said, adding some 140 people would lose their employment. A further 30 workers would be let go as the company closes its steering wheel logistics center in Germany.
"In the highly competitive automotive industry we have to continuously improve our competitiveness and adapt the capacity to the actual demand," Autoliv chief executive Jan Carlson said.
The company in October reported a net profit of $39.2 million in the third quarter after three successive quarters in the red.
Autoliv, which makes more than 70% of its sales in Europe and North America, has already cut thousands of jobs.
At the end of September, the company had 36,200 employees, compared to 41,300 a year earlier.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009