POOR SALES: Japanese automaker Mitsubishi will cease production at its US plant in Illinois in November 2015. Image: Mitsubishi
NORMAL, Illinois — Mitsubishi Motors has confirmed that it will stop production at its only US factory and sell the plant which employs more than 1200 people.
Dan Irvin, the company's North American spokesman, said the company had reviewed its global supply chain, confirming reports in the Japanese news media that the automaker intended to focus on Asian markets.
SEEKING A BUYER
Irvin said Mitsubishi's board would soon announce a formal decision on the future of the plant, about 160km south-west of Chicago though it hoped to find a buyer that would maintain the factory's employment.
The president of the United Auto Workers' union Local 2488, Rod DeVary, said employees were told on Friday (July 24 2016) that the plant would cease production on November 30.
Annual production there of the Outlander SUV has fallen to 64 000 from more than 200 000 in 2002. The company sold only 82 000 vehicles in the US in 2014 - less than one percent of the US market.
Japan's leading business newspaper, the Nikkei, reported that Mitsubishi would be the first major Japanese automaker to end production in both the US and Europe. The company has built a plant in Thailand, bought one from Ford in the Philippines, and is building one in Indonesia.
Illinois states Senator Bill Brady, whose district includes Normal, said he and other state officials were already working on a plan to find another manufacturer to buy the factory.
Brady said: "We are going to do everything we can to make sure people know that Mitsubishi no longer needs the facility but that this is a facility that has a very efficient, world-class, workforce and a supplier network second to none."
Brady also said he had talked to Mitsubishi management and been assured that Mitsubishi's effort to sell the plant "will not be about getting top dollar for the sale but about doing the right thing".