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Hybrid demand brings furloughed workers back to car plant, more to be hired

Strong demand for hybrid cars is keeping the factory busy, says Valmet Automotive.

Autojen tankkauspiste.
Valmet Automotive has been manufacturing Mercedes-Benzes since 2013. Image: Jyrki Lyytikkä / Yle

The Valmet Automotive plant in Uusikaupunki is asking all its furloughed employees to return to work by the end of September. The company is also starting to recruit 50–100 new workers for the facility on Finland’s west coast.

Valmet Automotive is a contract manufacturer, producing vehicles and parts for the likes of Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Ford. The factory originally opened as a Saab plant in 1968.

The company temporarily laid off about 1,000 employees in June, bringing about half of them back to work in late August. Now the rest will return within the next two weeks.

Valmet Automotive says it is bringing back and hiring employees due to demand for hybrid cars.

Battery business may surpass vehicles

The firm also says it plans to double the staff at its EV Power electric vehicle battery plant in Salo within the next few years. That facility opened last year. In February, Valmet opened a battery test centre in Germany.

Valmet Automotive says it expects its EV battery sales to match or surpass its vehicle manufacturing in the next few years.

“We now aim at winning a contract as a Tier 1 battery system supplier, and we are currently in promising negotiations for several projects with leading European car manufacturers,” CEO Olaf Bongwald said in a statement.

Last year the company had about 3,600 employees, just over 10 percent of them in the battery business. The company is nearly 40 percent state-owned.

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