Struggling coachbuilder gets legal protection from creditors for six months
15 April 2009

Struggling coachbuilder Heuliez has been granted protection from creditors for up to six months by a French court.

It follows last week's news that German coachbuilder Karmann, best known for its work on the Audi A4 and Mercedes CLK convertibles, has filed for insolvency.

Heuliez is currently best known for producing the Vauxhall/Opel Tigra Twin Top, and previously made the retractable hardtop on the Peugeot 206CC.

Last month the French state said it would invest 10 million euros (£8.8 million) in Heuliez, which employs more than 1000 people, if the company came up with a realistic survival plan.

It has failed to do this quickly, so the protection from creditors is designed to give the company time to raise enough cash to restructure.

It has been reported that Heuliez needs 40 million euros (£35 million) to ensure survival, with the state's money set to be topped up by local authority and private sector money. Electricity provider EDF has already said it will invest around 5 million euros (£4.4 million).

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Heuliez's contract to produce the Tigra Twin Top ends this year, although it has branched out into the electric vehicles market recently, producing the Friendly prototype and Pelican electric utility vehicle.

The Poitou-Charente region has already placed an order for 100 Friendly electric vehicles, with an option on ordering up to 600 examples.

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