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Mitsubishi Abandoning Illinois Assembly Plant, Cutting More than 900 Jobs

Long-troubled Japanese maker says it remains committed to American market.

by on Jul.24, 2015

Mitsubishi announced it will close is manufacturing plant in Normal, Illinois, eliminating 900 jobs.

A day after the first reports surfaced on Japanese media, Mitsubishi Motors has confirmed it will shutter its aging and underutilized assembly plant in Normal, Illinois, a move that will cost more than 900 jobs.

That follows a failed effort to find effort to find a partner to share production at the facility that originally opened as part of a joint venture with Chrysler. But Mitsubishi officials stressed they plan to continue selling vehicles in the U.S. and point to a recent upturn in demand.

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“Following a review of Mitsubishi Motor Corp.’s global supply chain, we have been informed it is necessary to end production and seek a strategic buyer for the Normal plant,” announced the maker’s U.S. subsidiary, Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America, in a prepared statement. (more…)

Mitsubishi Reportedly Abandoning US Assembly Plant

Will long-troubled Japanese maker walk away from the US Entirely?

by on Jul.24, 2015

The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander is meant to help the Japanese maker regain ground in the U.S. market.

After failing to find a new manufacturing partner, long-struggling Mitsubishi Motors reportedly will abandon its assembly plant in Normal, Illinois – a move that raises questions about the maker’s longer-term commitment to the U.S. market.

The Japanese maker is said to be making a strategic shift in focus to the Asian market, according to a report in Japan’s Nikkei news service. But the move comes as little surprise to those familiar with the Illinois operation. It has been operating for years at well under its production capacity, running up millions of dollars in annual losses.

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“We have no statement at this time,” said Alex Fedorak, senior spokesman for Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America, or MMSA.

The mayor of the southern Illinois community, Chris Koo, said, meanwhile, that he has “heard nothing” from the automaker on any change in plan. Nor had Kyle Young, the vice president of United Auto Workers Union Local 2488, which represents the 918 workers at the factory.


Mitsubishi “Here to Stay” – But in What Form?

Long-struggling Japanese maker beats the odds, but needs help from outside.

by on Jun.04, 2015

Mitsubishi officials are counting on the appeal of sport-utes to drive sales of its Outlander while it searches for a partner in the U.S.

In the lingo of the auto industry, there are minor updates, major refreshes, complete makeovers – and on occasion, a Hail Mary Pass. Mitsubishi Motors has had to throw several of those since barely dodging bankruptcy during the Great Recession.

A look at the Japanese maker’s latest numbers suggests a few of them have resulted in scores. Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America reported its first operating profit in some time for 2014. And last month, it reported its best sales figures since 2008.

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That news coincides with the launch of MMSA’s 2016 Outlander utility vehicle. A “major-minor,” to stick with industry-speak, it gets more than just the normal mid-lifecycle tweaks. And it will have to carry a bigger load than in the past as Mitsubishi trims down its line-up, shifting focus primarily to its utility vehicles. (more…)

Honda Records Q4 Profit of $1.67 Billion

by on Apr.25, 2014

Honda reported significantly improved Q4 and full year profits today based on a weak yen and strong auto sales around the world.

Honda rode the benefits of its own peculiar “double play” of a weak yen and strong sales to an impressive fourth quarter result. However, the positive impact of the yen is going to decline going forward, the company said.

The automaker reported a quarterly profit of $1.67 billion (170.5 billion yen) compared with less than $800 million (75.5 billion yen) during the same period a year ago. Honda reported sales increased 13% to $30 billion, or 3.1 trillion yen.

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Japanese buyers seeking to beat an April 1 rise in sales taxes helped push Honda to 1.2 million vehicles sold during the quarter, which was nearly 200,000 units more than last year. (more…)

Mitsubishi Lands New Outlander

Maker insists it’s committed to U.S. market.

by on Nov.30, 2012

Mitsubishi delivers a completely redesigned 3-row Outlander CUV.

You know a manufacturer is having trouble when it begins a news conference not with the unveiling of a new product but with a promise that it isn’t about to leave the market. But few were surprised by the approach taken when Mitsubishi’s U.S. chief executive opened things up at the LA Auto Show this week.

The Japanese maker has had some serious problems in recent years.  A flawed strategy aimed at bringing in young, first-time buyers backfired, running up $100s of millions in losses. And a number of recent products flopped, notably including the now-abandoned Eclipse sports coupe. In fact, Mitsubishi is all but starting over, walking away from a number of once-popular nameplates.

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Its problems were serious enough that only a major bailout kept the Japanese parent alive, in fact. Now, with Suzuki announcing plans to abandon the U.S. after years of crumbling sales, the spotlight is on Mitsubishi, many analysts predicting it could be next to give up on the market.

Not so fast, proclaimed CEO Yoichi Yokazawa, telling a crowd of journalists, “Mitsubishi is as committed to North America as ever,” before unveiling several products intended to help it regain some positive momentum.


Mitsubishi Takes Last Shot, Names New US Chairman

Will maker follow Suzuki out of the American market?

by on Nov.06, 2012

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is among the few new models coming anytime soon.

Mitsubishi Motors has named a new chairman for its struggling U.S. subsidiary, the first time that post has been filled since 2007 when the Japanese-owned maker was struggling for survival.

With 35 years in at the maker, Gayu Uesugi appears to carry the credentials needed in his new post, having worked at Mitsubishi’s Japanese headquarters overseeing product strategy and development and cost control.  The maker let costs run out of control over the past decade – in part with an ill-conceived marketing strategy that saw thousands of young buyers get a year’s free use of Mitsubishi products before handing the keys back to the company.

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With its U.S. market share at less than a half percent, analysts warn that Mitsubishi cannot long sustain a presence in the States without a major breakthrough.  The alternative would be to follow the example set by American Suzuki which has declared bankruptcy and will now stop selling cars in the U.S. market.


Mitsubishi Revamping Entire U.S. Line-Up

Eclipse, Endeavor and Galant gone as maker moves new models into struggling Illinois plant.

by on Jan.20, 2011

Mitsubishi missed the mark when it launched the latest-generation Eclipse.

As part of a bold transformation, dubbed Jump 2013, that could prove essential for the maker’s survival, Mitsubishi will kill off and replace its entire line-up of U.S.-made models, including the once-popular Eclipse coupe and Endeavor crossover.

An entirely new line of products will be launched to replace the outgoing models, promises CEO Osamu Masuko, who envisions the maker’s assembly line in Normal, Illinois, as a major export center.

Following the lead of other global makers, including Ford Motor Co., Mitsubishi will migrate to fewer flexible global platforms that can be used for a variety of models – both conventionally-powered and others using alternative propulsions systems, according to Masuko, who outlined the plan during a Japanese news conference today.

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The Jump 2013 strategy has been a long time in coming and reflects the Japanese maker’s bid to reverse years of setbacks, particularly in the American market, where it has steadily lost ground over the last decade.  From a peak for 345,000, sales tumbled to barely 50,000 in recent years.  The numbers did rise 3%, to 55,683 last year, but while that was a much hoped-for increase, it lagged well behind the recovery of the overall U.S. market.