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Germany's Wiesmann shuts down

by Ronan Glon

Wiesmann will be liquidated by a court-appointed administrator.

Germany-based boutique automaker Wiesmann has confirmed it has laid off the bulk of its 125-strong workforce and shut its doors for good.

"The factory, the maintenance shop, everything is closed. There is no future for Wiesmann, it's finished," said one of the company's six remaining employees.

Dutch media is reporting Wiesmann's last employees are overseeing the winding down process and will quit once all of the loose ends have been taken care of. Wiesmann will file for bankruptcy in the coming weeks and a court-appointed administrator will be tasked with liquidating the company and its assets, which include a large factory in Germany equipped with numerous machines and intellectual property.

Crippled by debt, Wiesmann came frighteningly close to bankruptcy at the end of last year but it managed to find an investor at the very last minute. The deal fell through a few months ago for reasons that have not been made public, and the company has not been able to pay workers and suppliers since. A source close to the company revealed it owes an amount that is well into the six digits.

Founded in 1988 by two brothers, Wiesmann never fully recovered from the economic crisis that rocked Europe in 2009. Desperate to turn a profit, the company spent a small fortune on developing complex sports cars that did not sell because they were simply too expensive. An earlier report revealed building the average Wiesmann requires over 350 hours of labor from start to finish.

Wiesmann owners who need parts or service will have to go to a BMW dealership (most Wiesmann models use BMW-sourced drivetrains) or to Hoefa, a components manufacturer based in Utretcht, Holland, that doubles as the only authorized Wiesmann dealer on the planet.