Long-Time Mercedes-Benz Tuner Carlsson Saved from Bankruptcy by South Korean Company

All those people who enjoyed Carlsson’s creations can breathe a sigh of relief: the German tuner will not go extinct thanks to a takeover by a South Korean company you’ve never really heard of.
Mercedes-Benz S-Class by Carlsson 1 photo
Photo: Carlsson
It has to be said that the “German” tuner wasn’t really all that German to begin with: 70 percent of the company founded by Andreas and Rolf Hartge brothers in 1989 was already owned by Chinese auto retailer Zhongsheng Group Holdings Ltd when its financial problems kicked in.

The last two years have been a real free fall for Carlsson, which finished 2013 with a €30 million turnover, but went down in 2014 to 18 million. In April 2014, Carlsson entered into a liquidation phase after it was thought that the prospect of rehabilitation was too optimistic.

However, Carlsson continued to trade and maybe that’s why all but the keenest observers of the automotive world (and its tuning branch in particular) had no idea about the company’s ailments. Especially since it continued to roll out its usual array of over-the-top body kits and wheel designs.

Maybe that explains why Carlsson had no less than four suitors who offered to pull the company out of insolvency and make it profitable again. Or, you know, steal as much know-how as possible and then close it down.

South Korean company Sambo Motors Co. Ltd came up with the best offer and is now the new owner of one of the biggest names in European tuning. According to GTspirit, it promised to keep Carlsson running, which remarkably never resorted to redundancies all this time despite its turmoil. Sambo has said it will invest in the company and assured everyone at Carlsson that their jobs are secure.

Whether you like Carlsson or not is irrelevant here - the idea is that big names quitting the automotive industry is bad news for everyone. On the other hand, big European names being bought by companies from Asia... that’s something we’ve become accustomed to.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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