The reason which led to the decision is, as usual, the declining sales figures. The Alonsotegi plant, which employs 119 people and manufactures automotive suspension parts, was hit by the drastic reduction in orders. A reduction which, for some, seems unexplainable. The Spanish automotive industry, on the brink of collapse in 2009, registered in May a boost in car sales of over 44 percent, followed by an increase of 25.6 percent in June.
Bilstein however says the numbers do not reflect the reality. Whereas the increase was boosted by sales of vehicles in general, including imports, demand on a local scale for the parts manufactured in Bilbao dropped dramatically.
Alonsotegi is the second plant Bilstein closed in Spain, after the one in Madrid last year. The supplier says it tried to find a buyer for its unit prior to deciding to close it, but failed to do so.
The closing of the plant will leave, as said, 119 workers unemployed. Bilstein assured that it will “do everything possible to minimize the social impact of the closure.” It's unclear at this point what type of compensation will be offered to the workers.
The Spanish automotive industry as a whole faces again new challenges, after the government refused to renew the country's scrappage scheme. A scheme which was largely responsible for the salvation of the Spanish automotive market last year.