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Bidders Line Up to Purchase Shuttered Mitsubishi Oz Plant

Mitsubishi could be forced to sell the site to South Australia if the auto maker’s plans stray too far from the government’s vision of retaining the location for manufacturing.

South Australia is among the bidders for the recently closed Mitsubishi Motors Australia Ltd. plant in Adelaide and could utilize compulsory acquisition if the site is not retained for manufacturing purposes.

The state and federal governments are finalizing details of a fund to attract industry to the site, and applications for industry assistance will be taken after a sale is finalized.

South Australian Minister for the Southern Suburbs John Hill tells The Australian newspaper the state government has a strong desire to retain the site for manufacturing purposes.

Mitsubishi would be forced to sell the 158-acre (64-ha) site to the state if the auto maker’s plans stray too far from the government’s vision for the location, he says.

The state is among a couple dozen bidders for the facility, and officials want an agreement with Mitsubishi that would secure a mix of high-technology manufacturers.

“We don’t want to see it used for housing or for someone who wants to use it for storage facilities,” Hill is quoted as saying. “We have powers of planning or we could compulsorily acquire. We might sell it to someone else who shares our vision for the land.”

Other bidders reportedly include British defense company BAE Systems plc, which will supply 7,500 trucks to the Australian army by 2016.

Universal Design Co. also reportedly is looking at the site to build 30,000 hybrid cars annually that would serve as taxis for the disabled.

Mitsubishi officially closed the Adelaide plant after the last 380 sedan rolled off the line March 31. The auto maker in February announced it would shutter the facility, citing declining sales of large cars in Australia and mounting debt.

“While this is a very sad and poignant day, everyone at Mitsubishi has focused on all the good times we have experienced and the absolute sense of family and community we have built here,” Mitsubishi President and CEO Rob McEniry said at the time.

Three of the last 380 vehicles will benefit charities, and one will go on permanent display at the National Motor Museum in Adelaide, where the car will be the centerpiece of a display telling the 44-year history of car manufacturing at the Tonsley Park plant.

Mitsubishi took over the facility from the former Chrysler Corp. in 1980, building more than 1.1 million vehicles there including more than 100,000 for export.

Federal Industry Minister Kim Carr marked the plant closure by paying tribute to the 500 employees who were immediately dismissed from the plant, as well as the 430 workers who will leave over the next 12 months after removing machinery used on the assembly line. The workers also will produce a stockpile of 380 spare parts to last for the next 10 years.

“The government acknowledges (the workers’) perseverance and the enormous contribution they have made to the Australian automotive industry,” Carr says.

“The government remains firmly committed to the Australian automotive industry, and the current review of the sector is examining the challenges (the industry) faces and identifying opportunities for the future.”

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