Mitsubishi to close US plant by November, seeks buyer
More details of Mitsubishi Motors’ closing of its sole North American factory have emerged. The automaker has issued a statement to dealers about exiting US and is reportedly seeking a buyer for its plant. If no takers appear by November, the Normal, Illinois site will be shuttered.
Automotive News has disclosed Mitsubishi’s plans to quickly sell off its plant, shopping it to several automakers, including one unnamed Detroit-based company. According to a source, the price is “cheap” and will give the buyer an easy way to increase capacity by the 222,000, the plant’s peak output in 2000.
Citing the recent Russian financial crisis for its woes, Mitsubishi says it no longer makes sense to keep the lights on at a factory that is using only a fraction of its capacity. Last year, out of 64,000 cars built at the site, 29,000 were exported with almost 60 percent going to Russia, the Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Now, Mitsubishi plans to transfer manufacturing to Japan to better support the growing Asian market and will soon begin shipping the plant’s tooling there.
Originally established as a joint venture with Chrysler, at its peak six models were built simultaneously on the Normal assembly line. Cars to emerge from its doors have included the Eclipse, Galant, Endeavor, Dodge Stratus, Chrysler Sebring and the current Outlander Sport.
Despite this news, Mitsubishi says it is still committed to the US market, and has plans to bring over a Mirage sedan, Outlander PHEV and a redesigned Outlander Sport.
Mitsubishi says they would prefer that an automaker purchase the site, and is working with the UAW to find an interested party so that its employees can more easily transition, but remains open to all offers. The company will hold its eleventh annual Mitsubishi Owners’ Day enthusiasts’ event at the site on September 26, 2015.