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Karmann gone

By Samantha Stevens, 09 Apr 2009 Industry

Karmann gone

Long-time coachbuilder Karmann files for insolvency.

The current global financial crisis has claimed German coachbuilders Karmann.

Known mostly for its collaborations with VW through the 1950s to mid-70s, producing the gorgeous Beetle-based Ghia, the company was more recently serving contracts to build cars and in particular roof parts for Audi, Daimler AG, BMW and Mini, Dutch supercar company Spyker, and the US version of our Commodore, the Pontiac G6.

The decline in demand is responsible, with the small independent company unable to afford its operations and pay its 4500 workers, including 1340 recently retrenched staff, after contracts were suddenly cancelled.

"Audi and Daimler are our biggest customers, and unit numbers for convertibles we produce for them have been cut drastically," Christian Eick, a spokesman at Karmann, told Bloomberg.

Wilhelm Karmann GmbH was first established in 1901. The bankruptcy filing should hopefully see the remaining jobs and contracts seen through the GFC.

The bankruptcy filing also includes the Automotive Global Service GmbH, Karmann-Engineering-Services GmbH, Karmann-Rheine GmbH & Co. KG and Karmann Rheine-Verwaltungs GmbH divisions.

Meanwhile, Karmann competitor Valmet Automotive, which produces Porsche bodies, has been forced to suspend operations for a month from May. And Audi, who had Karmann build the convertible roof for its A4, is rumoured to be investigating the replacement of the A4 cabrio model with an in-house production A5 convertible.