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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.

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First Drive: 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander

Quiet, roomy and affordable. Oh, and did we mention real knobs?

by on Jun.11, 2015

The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander is one of the most affordable 7-seaters on the market.

Mitsubishi, remember them? The once popular marque was an alternative to traditional Japanese brands like Toyota and Honda, and offered such intriguing products as the 300GT and the Evo. After a series of missteps that nearly drove it into bankruptcy, Mitsubishi is struggling to regain some momentum with a barely-there line-up that will increasingly be focused on utility vehicles.

We’ve seen some intriguing hints of what might be coming in the form of some recent, over-the-top concept vehicles like the GC-PHEV that was unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show last February. Mitsubishi insiders promise that we’ll see these edgy prototypes translate into production form with the launch of the new Outlander Sport a few years from now.

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In the meantime, Mitsubishi is updating its other crossover model for 2016, and while the Outlander adopts a far less extreme design language, it is definitely not going to get lost in the crowd.

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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…)

Mitsubishi Outlander Makes Impact in NY

Maker introduces new design philosophy

by on Apr.02, 2015

The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander debuted at the New York International Auto Show.

Mitsubishi hopes that its latest introduction in New York, the 2016 Outlander, will continue the Japanese maker’s burgeoning regrowth in the U.S.

The new seven-passenger crossover features Mitsubishi’s new front design concept, “Dynamic Shield.” This feature is inherited from the bumper side protection seen on generations of the Montero, providing unique protection for both the people and car.

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“The 2016 Outlander has an eye-catching new design aesthetic inside and out, and with its long list of engineering upgrades, the new Outlander literally looks, drives and feels like an entirely new vehicle, making it an even more compelling value than before,” said MMNA Executive Vice President, Don Swearingen. (more…)

New Mitsubishi Outlander Set for NY Auto Show Reveal

Plug-in hybrid version expected to follow.

by on Mar.23, 2015

A first look at the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander.

What could be the make-it-or-break-it model for Mitsubishi Motors will put in its debut appearance at the New York International Auto Show next week.

The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander will be a complete remake of the long-struggling Japanese automaker’s primary crossover-utility vehicle. And it is expected to bring to the U.S. market Mitsubishi’s new plug-in hybrid drivetrain – though it’s unclear whether the PHEV version will be available at launch.

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“The 2016 Outlander is a refined crossover utility vehicle that features over 100 engineering and design improvements,” said a company statement accompanying these two teaser images, “including a new, powerful and dynamic appearance, enhanced road performance as the result of improvements to noise levels, ride, handling and throttle response, and a more eloquent yet functional interior space.”

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Mitsubishi Riding US Sales Wave to Renewed Success

Dealers becoming more involved in marketing decisions.

by on Feb.13, 2015

Mitsubishi Motors North America Executive Vice President said the maker is riding the current sales wave to success in the U.S.

After a debilitating period of declining sales, Mitsubishi is demonstrating a newfound resilience, taking advantage of a strong sales market in the U.S. to rebuild what were flailing operations here.

The company made its presence felt during the Chicago Auto Show with the introduction of its GC-PHEV concept. Don Swearingen, executive vice president of Mitsubishi Motors North America, noted after the concept’s press conference that the Japanese automaker boosted its sales by 25% during 2014 and the company is off to a promising start with a 33% increase in January.

A Real Performer!

“We’re profitable and our dealers are profitable,” noted Swearingen during a subsequent interview. “Mitsubishi is here to stay in the U.S.” (more…)

Mitsubishi Plugs Into Chicago with Concept GC-PHEV

Sci-fi features include "Tactical Table" and augmented reality display.

by on Feb.12, 2015

The Mitsubishi Grand Cruiser – Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle is an advanced take on an Outlander-style SUV.

Aiming to prove it has come back from the brink, Mitsubishi has been rolling out an assortment of production and concept vehicles in recent months, and it takes a look into a possible future with the Chicago Auto Show debut of its GC-PHEV.

That’s short for Grand Cruiser – Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle, an advanced take on an Outlander-style SUV that adopts a host of digital technologies, including an “augmented reality” windshield and plug-based all-wheel-drive system.

Auto Show Insight!

The exterior of the full-size Mitsubishi Concept GC-PHEV features aggressively creased sheet metal that gives it a foreboding, almost sci-fi look which, the maker claims, is meant to “look as though a master craftsman chiseled it by hand out of a single block of granite. Paradoxically, the Concept GC-PHEV’s form was carefully designed to include aerodynamic enhancing features throughout its exterior to minimize energy wasting parasitic drag.” (more…)

Mitsubishi Pushes into Battery-Power with XR-PHEV

Plug-in hybrid concept hints at “changes that will affect our future.”

by on Nov.21, 2014

Mitsubishi continued its push into the EV segment at the Los Angeles Auto Show with its new XR-PHEV plug-in hybrid crossover.

It’s likely best known for SUVs and sports cars like the Outlander and the EVO pocket rocket, but Mitsubishi has been shifting emphasis with battery models like the little i-MiEV and the battery-powered race car that set a new record at this year’s Pike’s Peak Hill Climb.

So there’s reason to take seriously the new XR-PHEV, the angular plug-in hybrid crossover vehicle the maker is showing at this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show.

Keeping the Conversation Going!

“We’re looking at changes that will affect our future,” suggested Mitsubishi Executive Vice President Don Swearingen. (more…)

Fiat and Mitsubishi Teaming Up on New Midsize Pickup

Is a new alliance between Mitsubishi and Chrysler in the cards?

by on Sep.19, 2014

Fiat and Mitsubishi entered into an agreement for the Japanese maker to provide Fiat with midsize trucks in Europe and Latin America.

The Fiat side of newly merged Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has signed a tentative agreement to purchase a midsize pickup truck plant from Mitsubishi for re-sale by its commercial vehicle unit in Europe and Latin America.

The project raises new questions about whether the U.S. side of the company might get back into the midsize segment it abandoned several years ago. If so, it could signal a rebirth of the long-running relationship between Chrysler and Mitsubishi

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As part of the Memoradum of Understanding, or MOU, Fiat and Mitsubishi will study “the possibility to develop and manufacture a midsize pick-up truck,” the two companies said in a joint statement, based on the Japanese maker’s L200 model. (more…)