Iconic Italian coachbuilder Bertone is filing for bankruptcy protection having made €37.3 million losses in the last three years alone.Applying for concordato preventive – Italy’s equivalent of America’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection – will allow Bertone bosses to reorganise the business without demands being made of them from creditors. The company’s 1350 employees have been protected and paid by a government funded scheme, which expires at the end of this year.
Where it all went wrong
Contract manufacturer Carrozzeria Bertone’s factory lines have been idle since production of the limited edition Mini GP, which ended in summer 2006. It has the capacity to build 70,000 cars per year and must build 30,000 annually in order to break even. But the coachbuilder has consistently failed to hit that target – its last mainstream model was the Alfa Romeo GT in 2003. Bertone’s heritage is long and proud, including iconic cars like the Lamborghini Miura, the Ferrari 308 and the Lancia Stratos.TVR expressed an interest in moving production of its sports cars to the dormant Bertone factory under Nikolai Smolenski’s reign. BMW also had its roofed C1 motorcycle built there until 2002; a contract that turned sour after questions were raised about the bikes’ build quality.
Glimmers of hope for Bertone’s future come from China. Import group DR Motors is considering hiring the company to assemble 12,000 units a year for sale in Europe – two SUVs and a pick-up truck – from the Zheijang Gonow Automobile and Jonway Automobile.CEO Lili Bertone commented that the company is “conducting confidential talks with Italian and international industrial and financial entities to secure Carrozzeria Bertone a future in vehicle manufacturing”.