Mitsubishi to end car production in the USA
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Mitsubishi announced overnight that it will cease manufacturing vehicles in the USA by the close of 2015.
Dan Irvin, a spokesman for Mitsubishi North America, told the Associated Press that, after reviewing its global supply chain, a decision was made to cease production at the company's factory in Normal, Illinois on November 30, 2015. T
he Japanese car company hopes to find a buyer for the facility and has assured officials that it will not seek "top dollar" for the plant, but is more concerned about "doing the right thing". Mitsubishi says that it will continue retailing cars in the United States.
Mitsubshi's Illinois plant actually started life in 1998 as a 50/50 joint venture facility with Chrysler. Dubbed Diamond Star Motors, the factory began churning out the Mitsubishi Eclipse, Plymouth Laser and Eagle Talon front-wheel drive coupes. Chrysler sold its half share to Mitsubishi in 1991, although the factory continued to produce vehicles for the American company, including the Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring coupes.
Over the years, the Normal factory has also produced the Mitsubishi Mirage and Galant sedans, as well as the Endeavor SUV. At present, the only vehicle in production at the facility is the Outlander Sport. Known as the ASX in Australia, the American-built small crossover is sold in the Russia, Mexico, Canada, Kuwait and 20 other countries.
During its lifetime, the factory, around 200km south of Chicago, has produced over 3.2 million vehicles. At its peak in 2000, the factory churned out 222,414 cars. At the height of the most recent global financial crisis, though, the plant produced just 18,502 cars in 2009. Production has since rebounded, with 69,178 Outlander Sports rolling out the factory gates in 2014.
In Australia, Mitsubishi quit local manufacturing in 2008 when it shuttered its South Australian plant after the failure of the 380 sedan.
Although head office has decided to end its run as North American manufacturer, sales in the USA are on the up, with 49,544 Mitsubishi vehicles finding homes so far this year compared to 39,672 at the end of June 2014.
Every Mitsubishi model sold in the States, with the exception of the i-MiEV, is up year-on-year. Sales of the Mirage have jumped 63 percent to 13,501, the Outlander Sport has improved almost 17 percent to 10,622, and the full-size Outlander is ahead 6 percent to 7,456.
Even the ageing Lancer sedan, which will have soldier on for the next few years at least after a model-sharing deal with Renault fell through, is up almost 20 percent with 10,622 sold so far in 2015.